Suns and Warriors gearing up for masterclass in half-court offense
If you only watch one game on Christmas Day, this should be it. The Suns and Warriors have split their season series so far and chapter three promises to be just as entertaining as the first two. The top two teams in the Western Conference are also two of the healthiest taking the floor on Christmas, with both rosters nearly fully intact. This promises to be the most entertaining game of the day.
Make a point to pay special attention to the half-court matchups between these two teams. While both teams are remarkably efficient in half-court sets, they go about it in distinctly different ways. Led by one of the best to ever do it, Chris Paul and the Suns pick and roll opponents to death. Meanwhile, the Warriors and their motion-heavy offense rely more on getting points off of well-placed screens and timely cuts.
The Spurs are on their way to being one of the better half-court teams in the league. They utilize handoffs at the second-highest rate in the NBA and use these opportunities to get players running downhill, creating plenty of opportunities for high-efficiency looks at the rim or kick-outs for three. It isn't a coincidence that they rank first in the league in assists and fifth in points off of spot-up shots.
As encouraging as those numbers are, there is still something for every Spurs player to learn from paying close attention to this game. If they can pull bits and pieces from both the Suns and the Warriors they'll absolutely be better for it.
Dejounte Murray and Derrick White can pick up tips on how to masterfully navigate pick and rolls, Lonnie Walker can try to mimic how Steph Curry flies around the court, weaving through screen after screen to find his window, and Devin Vassell would be wise to take notes on how Mikal Bridges defends Curry.
This game promises to bring as much education as it does entertainment as two of the league's strongest title contenders face off once again. The San Antonio Spurs, and every other team in the league, can find a nugget or two in this game that they could try to mimic. If you can, try to wrap up your Christmas festivities by 5 pm cause you don't want to miss this.