How OKC Thunder plan might have led to dear Kyrie Irving 5-point play for Celtics

The Boston Celtics continued their conspicuous winning strain Friday night, stretching it to 7 games with an 18-point quip on a highway opposite a Oklahoma City Thunder. Leading a approach was Kyrie Irving, who scored 22 of his 25 points in a second half, including 13 in a fourth entertain alone.


Perhaps a biggest play of a diversion came from Irving with a small over 4 mins remaining. After removing fouled on a 3-pointer, Irving stepped to a line to finish a four-point play. Instead, his giveaway chuck ricocheted off a behind of a edge and loyal behind to him. Before a Thunder knew what was happening, Irving put in a layup to spin it into a five-point play.

The five-point possession pushed a Celtics’ lead from one indicate to 6 points, and they never trailed again, holding on for an considerable feat that softened their league-best record to 7-2.

At first, we competence only think, “ah, bad fitness for a Thunder.” A fluky descent miscarry unequivocally cost them in a tighten game. However, on serve inspection, it competence not have been so fluky, after all. Yes, it was an hapless miscarry loyal behind to Irving, yet OKC’s plan on giveaway chuck rebounds was also partially to blame.

During Russell Westbrook’s triple-double debate final season, one of a criticisms was that other players on a Thunder let him squeeze rebounds they could have gotten so that he could pad his stats. One place this is generally loyal was during a giveaway chuck line, where OKC’s dual low players only arrange of behind their opponents up, and Westbrook swoops in for a board. 

This season, again, they are contracting that strategy. Let’s watch Irving’s miscarry again, and we can see this in action: 

As a shot by Irving goes up, Steven Adams and Carmelo Anthony accidentally pierce somewhat retrograde to try and keep a Celtics they’re matched adult with on their backs, yet make no bid whatsoever to get a ball.

Adams and Anthony mount flat-footed, watchful for Westbrook to go in for a board.

When a round bounces loyal behind to Irving, however, a Thunder are stuck. Westbrook had sauntered into a center of a lane, yet though creation an try to box out Irving, while Adams and Anthony are station flat-footed. And with conjunction Ray Felton nor Paul George pinching down discerning enough, Irving gets a rebound. 

The round doesn’t miscarry utterly where a Thunder wish it to, and they’re left stranded as Irving gets a essential board. 

Then, in partial since Adams is only unresolved out and not awaiting to do anything, he’s in no position to competition Irving’s follow-up layup.

Now, did a Celtics get some fitness with a round going loyal behind to Irving? Certainly. However, as we can see, a Thunder’s plan was during slightest partially to blame. Adams and Anthony mostly take themselves out of a play, and Westbrook doesn’t make an try to box out anyone, withdrawal that pursuit to his teammates during a tip of a key, even yet a shooter is customarily a shortcoming of a actor in Westbrook’s position. 

This partial of their plan is a categorical reason because Irving got a purchase rebound. If Westbrook jumps in front of Irving to box him out instead of walking down nearby a rim, it’s expected he can get in front of a Celtics indicate ensure and squeeze a ball.

The thing is, many of a time, this plan is no problem for OKC. Teams customarily don’t pile-up a potion tough on giveaway throws, and a round customarily doesn’t miscarry loyal behind like it did this time with Irving. 

Here’s another instance from this deteriorate where this setup works out only fine. Again, Adams and Jerami Grant only behind their matchups up, while Westbrook focuses only on a ball, and George pinches in to get a shooter: 

Now, to be satisfactory to Westbrook and a Thunder, this is not quite a greedy thing. There are reasons because it creates clarity to let Westbrook squeeze some of these rebounds, as he can afterwards only take a round adult himself, and infrequently jumpstart their fastbreak. 

However, generally on giveaway chuck situations late in tighten games, it’s satisfactory to consternation if a Thunder should start contracting a some-more required and regressive style. Doing so competence not have guaranteed they get a miscarry on this specific play with Irving and a Celtics, yet it would have given them a improved chance. 


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