The Rockets Shut Down the Raptors’ Chances for a Tie

(AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

The Raptors faced off against the Rockets on Tuesday night, and with ten seconds left, the Rockets led by three.  The Raptors had the ball on the sideline with the chance to tie.  In two previous games the Raptors ran plays designed to get the inbounder, Jose Calderon, open for three.  Let’s take a look at what the Raptors ran and how the Rockets handled it.

The play begins with Jose Calderon taking the ball out of bounds, as usual.   Dwane Casey is quite fond of using Calderon as his trigger man in these late game situations.  When he gave that responsibility to Rasual Butler, he ended up with a turnover via five second violation.  On this play, Leandro Barbosa goes to set a down screen for Linas Kleiza.

Kleiza pops to the top of the key, but the Rockets switch the screen and he is covered by Courtney Lee, who exchanges assignments with Chandler Parsons.  Lee is well-prepared for the switch and barely follows Barbosa as he moves toward the hoop.

After setting the screen, Barbosa continues to the baseline corner where he is expecting a double screen from James Johnson and Amir Johnson.  The play is designed to get Barbosa an open look in the corner for the tie.

The Rockets, however, switch the screen again, and Barbosa runs right into the waiting arms of Kevin Martin.  Calderon’s first option is covered.

Calderon has to pass to Kleiza as his release, and the play turns into the familiar screen (handoff, in this case) for the inbounder play that we’ve seen twice before.  The Wizards had a complete breakdown and left Calderon wide open.  When the Lakers saw the play, Kobe Bryant fought over the screen to deny Calderon.

This time around, the Rockets switch on the handoff, just as they have been doing throughout the play.  The play is now dead in the water.  Calderon can’t get any space for a shot and swings it back to Kleiza.

Here is the full play in action:

Amir Johnson thinks about setting a screen for Kleiza, but decides against it.  Perhaps he realized the Rockets were switching everything , and Kleiza had a height mismatch, so he might as well let him go one on one. Eight seconds remained on the clock when Calderon realized he couldn’t take a three, so a better option may have been to try for a relatively quick two to extend the game.  The Raptors had two timeouts remaining, so they could have moved the ball to halfcourt again for another shot at an inbounds play after fouling.  20/20 hindsight, of course.

The Raptors ran a completely different play from the usual Calderon action, but it ended up looking very similar after the first option broke down.  The Rockets defended the play perfectly and ended up with the win.

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3 responses to “The Rockets Shut Down the Raptors’ Chances for a Tie

  1. Pingback: Numeric Extravaganza | Hickory-High

  2. Pingback: Raptorswatch 2012: Jose Calderon Can’t Catch a Break | Basketball Things

  3. Pingback: Chicago’s Luck Beats Toronto’s Strategy | Basketball Things

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