Portland runs some fairly impressive after timeout plays (AOT) and this sideline cut play featuring LaMarcus Aldridge and Nic Batum is particularly impressive.
As with many inbounds plays, the primary scoring option will be the man inbounding the ball. You can also tell where the Trail Blazers are looking to score the ball by where they have setup negative space on the floor. In this case, the entire painted area is left open, so the defense should be looking for a cut there (if not to the far baseline). Let’s take a look at how the play shakes out.
The play starts with Nic Batum is setup on the sideline, with Aldridge at the near high post, and Damian Lillard on the near low post. Wes Matthews and Robin Lopez are on the backside of the play along the arc, possibly ready to set a screen for one another.
Batum inbounds the ball to Aldridge on the elbow, while Lillard comes up two steps to set a screen on the Batum’s defender. The Portland forward is looking to cut to the inside of the screen and go to the middle of the paint.
Batum jab steps his defender toward the baseline to get space, then rubs off Lillard’s pick to the middle of the paint. This forces a switch between the two Phoenix Suns defenders due to an effective pick.
Aldridge throws a pass to Batum’s left shoulder as he gets position inside the paint.
Batum scores the hoop.
The Lakers used a variation of this play to beat the Memphis Grizzlies in 2010. Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning shot with 4.7 seconds left to put Los Angeles up 99-98.
In the Lakers’ version, the backside guard and post player set a screen for each other to get a pass from the near high post. Meanwhile, after the guard (Kobe) sets a screen for the inbounder, he rubs off a screen from the near post in order to make it to the three point line for a shot.
With Terry Stotts’ willingness to use Robin Lopez as a passer on AOT plays, don’t be surprised to see Damian Lillard in a similar variation of this play.
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