On Wednesday the Nuggets lost 100-99 to the Spurs in San Antonio. A lot of discussion after the game centered around the final play of the game; so I thought I would break it down. As all the talk was about Danilo Gallinari rather than the last shot itself (taken by Andre Miller) I have focused on that part of the play.
1. The Denver players are lined up along the edge of the paint toward the strong side. The play begins with Miller cutting up past the three point line to receive the inbounds pass.
2. The Inbounds goes to Miller and Gallinari begins a cut up towards the three point line.
3. Miller passes off to Gallinari and heads for the three-point line on the weak side to create space. Wilson Chandler begins a cut to the far corner (as a shooting option and to create space in the paint by drawing away his defender Kawhi Leonard).
4. Now a pick and roll begins as JaVale McGee moves in to set a pick on Manu Ginobili and Gallo drives to the middle.
5. Both defenders focus on Gallinari with Tiago Splitter switching quickly onto Gallo while Ginobili attempts to go over the top of McGees screen.
6. This where it gets interesting -- Ginobili completely loses his footing as his foot slides out and he begins to fall over. McGee turns and begins a roll to the hoop. At this point Gallo is likely concentrating on breaking Splitter down for a shot.
7. Gallo now sees that McGee is unguarded and rolling to the hoop. Gallo decides to pick up his dribble to make the pass to McGee. At this point both Green and Leonard have also seen McGee open and rolling and they begin to sag into the paint to meet McGee.
8. Gallo is looking for the pass but has the ball high and to the right and is looking to pass around the farside of Splitter making for a difficult pass. Splitter is also doing a good job of standing close and waving his arms at Gallo to deny the pass.
9. As McGee gets deep into the paint Danny Green has picked him up and Leonard is rushing the passing lane waving his arms, while Splitter has his arms waving high. Gallo decides he can not make the pass to McGee.
10. With Splitter defending right in his face Gallinari looks to Chandler in the corner and cranks back the ball as if he is going to throw to Chandler. Its not possible to tell if he intended to throw this pass but it was likely just a fake to try and draw Parker into the passing lane so Gallo can pass to Miller.
11. Gallinari passes off to Miller. Notice the referee who is totally taken by surprise and has to quickly jump out of the way.
12. Parker closes on Miller, but from here with 2.8 seconds left Miller is able to drive and get off a shot in the paint that just misses.
So there you have it. Did Gallo blow it? In my opinion the biggest factor was that the Spurs played really good scambling defense on this play.
Gallo picked up his dribble to make the pass to an open McGee but with Splitter defending well in his face and the Spurs help defense closing on McGee, Gallo decided against the difficult pass. I would have loved for him to try to make the pass to McGee when he first saw it, but the Spurs closed fast and it may have ended in a turnover so I think its difficult to judge.
Unfortunately, after that point since Gallinari had picked up his dribble and had Splitter right up on him, his options were limited. The pass to Miller was a good choice as Miller could dribble to get a better shot than if Gallo had tried to launch a three over the 6 11 Splitter.
I noticed that some commented this might have been a play designed for McGee that broke down. I think that is unlikely as running a pick and roll play for the roller with 10 secs left would be a very strange option.
I think it was a pick and roll play for Gallo to create space and/or a mismatch, but when Ginobili fell over the situation changed, but because of great scrambling by San Antonio, Gallo decided he couldnt get it to McGee (which unfortunately came after he had picked up his dribble).
Would like to hear other views, so please feel free to comment below ...