The New Orleans Pelicans have a handful of pet plays that they go to frequently. As Monty Williams and company embark down the playoff path, we will take a look at three plays we are certain to see run in some variation over the next four (or more, please more!) games against the Golden State Warriors.
As with most good plays, the following sets derive their value from forcing the opponent into choosing among a number of poor choices. Do you give Anthony Davis the lob or Eric Gordon the catch and shoot 3-pointer? This is going to be a basic question that the Pels will ask the Warriors over and over again with the starters in the game. The Pelican offense features some player movement, a lot of dribbling waiting for that action to produce a result, and one pass. The beauty is questionable: when that one option is taken away, it oftentimes leads to over dribbling and hero ball.
Sometimes though, it can be beautiful. Simple, but beautiful. Let's take a look.
Double Pick and Roll
This is the Pelican go-to play more often than not. Zach Lowe called it the "New Orleans Bunch Play" in his Things I Like and Don't Like column Thursday. I refer to it as a double pick and roll. One thing the Pelicans were forced to add in Ryan Anderson's absence was a new way to execute the play; substituting Eric Gordon instead.
Gordon sets a brush screen to start things off then heads to down screen for Anthony Davis.
AD then sets another screen for Evans at the top of the key and dives to the basket down the right side of the lane. Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday remain deep in each corner. While Anderson has not been shooting particularly well his reputation and gravity remains. A lesser shooter puts Boris Diaw on the right block, not two steps further out.
Wide open. Acres and acres of space in the NBA against one of the finest defenses in the league playing a crunch time lineup of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw, and Tim Duncan. Still Gordon has "pitch a tent and grab a bite to eat" space as this pass is in motion toward him at the top of the key. Let's watch it in motion.
Pick and Roll and Pin
Here is a new play the Pelicans have implemented since the All-Star Break. Chances are if New Orleans needs a 3-pointer, especially out of a time out, this the play. The Pels used a variation of it against Phoenix. Versus Houston they ran it on consecutive possessions, the second of which David Wesley broke down before the Minnesota game. Here is the first time they ran it against the Rockets.
Gordon sets a down screen for Omer Asik who sprints up to set a screen for Tyreke Evans.
While Asik sets this screen on Evans the first threat appears, Gordon peels for a back screen for an Anthony Davis lob. Chaos and panic ensues.
Asik isn't a threat out there. While Dwight Howard and Trevor Ariza corral the ball three defenders (James Harden, Josh Smith, and Jason Terry) all focus on AD slicing to the basket. Crisis averted?
All of that is window dressing. Eric Gordon not only has a WIDE OPEN catch and shoot three, but a body guard to keep it that way in Omer Asik. Watch the play in motion.
Apologies for the video quality.
Tyreke Evans Left Block Pick and Roll
This play was introduced much earlier in the season. I took the time then to document it after the Pels used it successfully twice in crunch time against the Sacramento Kings (back when they were the #KANGZ and actually good) in November. You can find that analysis at the link above. New Orleans continues to go back to that play and used it to some success against the Spurs on Wednesday night.