5 Trending Plays–Week 3

Game winning shot(s), sick alley oops, posterizing dunks, and predatory blocks–Week 3 of the NBA!

At Trending Hoops we have a penchant for plays that not only amaze us, but tell us something about the team and players we’re watching. If you’re talking about it–we’re talking about it.

1. Andre Iguodala’s Game Winning Shot

Andre Iguodala hits the game winner. His man decides to front and ball deny, so Iguodala cuts–almost like you would for an alley-oop. He gets behind his man into the corner and has time for a perfect fade away. Kids, pay attention to the form. Even though Iggy’s feet are off balance and he may be drifting to the right, his shoulders and wrist are square to the rim, letting a crisp jumper fly home.

I love that Golden State fans react like a college game. They nearly storm the court! The sound and unified arm raising is inspiring. The players reaction is the same. The bench spills out onto the court and there’ chest bumping and palm slapping at mid court. These guys are having fun.

2. Russell Westbrook’s Game Winning Shot (Almost)

Just seconds before play #1, play #2 happened. Durant comes of the Ibaka screen and is guarded tight, so he turns to hit Westbrook on the wing. Westbrook is standing on the arena name logo. Thompson is guarding him past the 3 point line. Westbrook takes one dribble and rises up. Klay has given him too much space–fearing a drive–and is standing about 1 foot inside the arc. Westbrook’s heels are still on the “A” of “Arena”. It’s a true 30 foot jumper. The shot is pure, Westbrook is ice.

Westbrook, Durant, and Ibaka’s reaction shows us a lot. It shows us they still have that legendary camaraderie that Harden rued leaving. It shows us they really want to get back to the finals this year. And it shows us that yes, the regular season does matter to these players.

3. Brandon Jennings to Andre Drummond Oop of the Backboard

WOW! Jennings releases the pass from 15 feet away, risking an out of control bounce. Drummond leaps and finishes–as if they had discussed it on the way up the floor. I love two things about this play. First, Drummond starts the fast break with a steal. Yes, the guy who is “still learning the game” has some quick hands. Second, Jennings reacts like its a layup. A casual finger point and a “let’s get back on D” motion. You just brought street ball into the gym son! That deserves a fist pump or a muscle flex. Check out the fans in the front row (behind the basket and cameras) clapping in delight at the opposing team’s great play.

4. Xavier Henry Posterizes Jeff Whithey

The Pelicans D is scrambling. They collapse down low on Chris Kaman. Falling out of bounds he flings it out to the corner, where it is swung to Xavier Henry at the top. Two Pelicans defenders run out at Henry. The first runs by his up fake, the second peels off to guard the wing. As the Pellies scramble to recover, they leave the lane wide open. Xavier drives. Whithey goes for the charge, not the block. It’s a bowling pin strategy, and one we hope fades from the NBA. Whitey can dunk, and a valiant attempt to meet Henry at the rim is better than what happened. (Pellie fans who want a charge–check Whitey’s L foot–in the restricted area.)

5. Lebron’s Block of Kemba Walker

Lebron snatches the ball out of the air a fraction of a second before the block becomes a goal tend. This is an easy play for Lebron after bad decision by Walker. It may look like Kemba is helpless here, but he’s not. A player as smart and quick as Walker should euro-step or just drive to the far side of the basket for a left hand layup or a quick step right hander on the left side. This makes the rim Walker’s protector against any high flying blocks. In other words, a floater was a very poor choice for that particular layup. The only way it works is if Lebron gives up on the play, or Kemba was just unaware that it was not a 1 on 1 fastbreak.

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