While reading TrueHoop’s Monday Bullets I came across this interesting bit about a late game play the Celtics ran yesterday against the Knicks:
Ray Allen’s shooting ability is an amazing thing. And Sebastian Pruiti points out on NBA Playbook the subtle ways it helps the Celtics. On the play of the weekend, Doc Rivers had Allen (of all people) set the key screen that freed Kevin Garnett for a lob from an inbound pass that brought the Celtics within a single point in the final minute. The cool thing about it is that on an inbounds play in the closing minute, no fool would leave Ray stinking Allen open. So, as Allen tackled Garnett’s man Ronny Turiaf, Allen’s man, Anthony Carter, didn’t help on Garnett — he stayed glued to Allen. (Side note: About 50 fouls on this play.) The result was that Garnett waltzed to the rim all alone for the catch, flush and game.
Of course, my first instinct was to think of examples of this effect in the ultimate world. And again, beyond just the effect, when have teams used strong players intentionally as decoys. The first example that poped into my mind wasn’t a perfect comparison, but still very applicable. Matt Knowles hurt his throwing hand before college regionals 2009 and was unable to throw deep. Well, other teams had no idea that Matt was injured, and despite not throwing deep all weekend, his teammates were open under because of Matt’s reputation as a hucker.
Other such stories include Beau playing with a pulled hamstring and taking the unders he’s constantly given. There is another story about Gabe Saunkeah playing on an almost broken ankle at nationals, he didn’t tell anyone, and because he’s Gabe people weren’t testing him and he was still able to do what he wanted.
What other examples come to mind? I know there are a few current college players who open up the field for their team just by their presence . . .