While You Weren't Watching: Top 10 most underrated plays of the week
The NBA regular season operates at a frenzied pace, with one game and storyline bleeding into the next. Every Friday here at SI.com, we'll slow 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. Here's what you may have missed...
• A lost cause. To fully appreciate the game of Paul Millsap, you need to closely track the teetering of the man guarding him. Players of Millsap’s size shouldn’t be able to handle and move as he does. On this play, the victim is Anthony Tolliver, who just can’t keep balanced and in front of Millsap as he worms his way into an assist.
• A numbers game. After Kevin Love took a shot to the nose while guarding the Bulls' Taj Gibson, the Cavs were faced with the prospect of a four-on-five offensive possession. Kyrie Irving was not deterred. Considering the circumstances, this was a much, much better attempt than should have been feasible against the Bulls defense:
• Prohibited entry. Dwight Powell, regarded as a throw-in for Dallas in the deal to acquire Rajon Rondo, has pleasantly surprised to the point of grabbing regular rotation minutes. On this sequence you can get some idea why: While undersized and overpowered in guarding Marc Gasol, Powell makes a pure effort play to deny a post entry pass:
• Poise. When we dissect the traits that make for a good pick-and-roll big, we make note of good hands, quick feet, and consistent finishing ability. Too often is the value of staying cool under pressure lost in the process. It’s not always about making the finishing play as powerfully as possible; there’s a lot to be gained in making a catch on the roll and calmly making a pass back out to initiate another quick move. Steven Adams grasps that on this sequence, which sparked the first of Russell Westbrook’s two clutch layups against the Wizards:
• Space creation. Elfrid Payton can’t always finish, but he’s figuring out new ways to manufacture angles to the rim. Watch here as he finds room between two defenders in transition by giving Brandon Jennings a slight bump off his spot:
• The power of suggestion. On first glance, this appeared to be a harder foul than it should have been by Hornets point guard Brian Roberts, who in mid-air seemed to extend his arms in contact with Heat forward James Ennis. On second viewing, you can actually see that Roberts wanted no part of the play. Shawne Williams -- Ennis’ teammate -- actually pushed an airborne Roberts into the foul, forcing a call where one wouldn’t have been:
• A slight infraction. Similar to the previous play, Jared Sullinger plays loose with the NBA’s screening rules here by holding up Steve Blake in transition. This is the only way that Tayshaun Prince can score on the fast break these days:
• Clean-up. Andrew Bogut sets a nice screen for Klay Thompson on this play, but what comes next isn’t exactly a roll. By the time Bogut turns to find his teammate, his shot attempt is already in progress. Nevertheless, Bogut -- some 25 feet from the rim -- dives down the lane on the chance that Thompson's shot misses its mark. It does, and no Rocket cares to stop him:
• A wall erected at the three-point line. On this possession, it takes the Jazz -- while working against the Bucks’ third-ranked defense -- a full 18 seconds to even get the ball inside the arc. The play ends with a Rudy Gobert charge.