While You Weren't Watching: Wall grows, Oladipo chases and more
The NBA regular season operates at a frenzied pace, with one game and storyline bleeding into the next. For the past few months, we've slowed things down in While You Weren't Watching—a spotlight on the little moments in the week's slate that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle. With the regular season coming to a close, this week's edition marks the final one of 2014-15. Here's what you may have missed...
• Earned proficiency. It’s fun to see John Wall bait defenders into a double team with one of the very things that used to give him trouble: Stringing the side pick-and-roll deep into the corner. When Courtney Lee and Kosta Koufos try to crowd Wall here, he easily threads a bounce pass between them.
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• Coordination. Not only does Victor Oladipo make up ground quickly enough on Ersan Ilyasova to chase down his fast-break shot attempt, but he jumps from the right side of Ilyasova’s body to his left and swats the shot with such control that he’s able to angle it backward to his teammates:
• Friendly fire. While you can see what Bill Walker was going for on this fast break, his attempt at boxing out/screening Indiana’s Solomon Hill very nearly kills an airborne Goran Dragic. The incidental turns dangerous:
• Dawdling. It’s unclear what kind of clip Tony Parker took on this play when going solely by the broadcast angle. That said, the officiating crew was not in the mood to wait around as Parker collected himself and trotted back down the floor. Draymond Green received the ball to pass it inbounds just as Parker rose to his feet, triggering a chain of events where Danny Green, Matt Bonner, and Tim Duncan badly miscommunicated. When Stephen Curry pulled up to shoot, the closest unscreened defender was about 15 feet away:
• The charge as a bluff. Smooth move by Kirk Hinrich to first clear the restricted area as if he intended to take a charge against Orlando’s Tobias Harris and then quickly backpedal out of contact entirely as Harris bumbled his shot at the rim:
• Inevitability. Of this we could be absolutely certain: Once Trevor Ariza collected a loose ball in the backcourt with just eight seconds remaining on the shot clock and returned to the play on a light jog, he had already made up his mind to gun a pull-up three-pointer. That he actually made the shot—a deep three with Cory Joseph in his face—is another matter entirely.
• Highlight proximity. The glory was very nearly yours, Thaddeus Young:
• Playmaking surprise. One of the wonderful things about watching the Spurs games are those moments where it’s not immediately clear whether a pass is going to a cutter (in this case a roll man) or the spot-up shooter positioned perfectly along the same line:
• An unexpected treat from an afterthought veteran. Jameer Nelson has played his best basketball this season by far since arriving in Denver, and had his best play of the season by far at the expense of former teammate J.J. Redick:
• Fun in Philly. Rookie big man Furkan Aldemir has had an uneven stint with the Sixers this season, but he had two plays of note in this single sequence: 1) textbook verticality that stops a driving Marvin Williams in his tracks and allows Nerlens Noel to swoop in for the block, and 2) a goofy lookaway pass to Noel on the other end that fools absolutely no one.