After Wednesday’s game had been tucked in and bid a good night, the Mavs were put in a dream situation. The win was, more or less, already in hand, but an offensive possession was halted by a Grizzlies deflection that sent the ball out of bounds with a single second remaining on the shot clock. Dallas had the chance to run a pre-designed set on the ensuing inbound pass against real competition, but without having the result be terribly relevant. This is as low-pressure of a testing environment as it gets, and the minimal time on the shot clock made this a perfect opportunity to give one of Rick Carlisle’s last-ditch-effort plays a nice trial run.
It ran, alright. It darted to the wing and ended without a defender in sight. J.J. Barea had a full second to enjoy life on the wide, open, hardwood plains before calmly sinking a jumper.
The play begins two by two, with Shawn Marion and J.J. Barea set up at the free throw line, and Jason Terry and Brendan Haywood on the right block. Brian Cardinal triggers the play. Before Cardinal receives the ball, the play is already in motion; Barea begins walking toward the right side of the lane, in what looks to be a double-screen set-up for JET. Instead, Barea quickly cuts back to screen for Marion, and Terry sets up in the corner. Brendan Haywood creeps into the lane.
Marion screens for Terry on the right wing, and JET curls up toward the three-point line. Meanwhile, Haywood catches Mike Conley off-guard with a surprised screen on Barea, and holds Conley just enough to ensure the play’s success.
The Mavs’ two options in this set are then revealed. In this case, due to just how shockingly out of position the Grizzlies are to defend Barea’s jumper, Cardinal set up J.J. for the bucket. If Gasol had switched onto Barea or Conley fought around the screen, then JET might be the play’s best option.
Regardless, the misdirection of this play is pretty beautiful. The initial fakeout by Barea can put defenders on their heels before the set even really begins, and the way Haywood slides into position makes this a pretty difficult cover. Additionally, if you sub out Marion for Dirk Nowitzki, the set becomes even more effective. Nowitzki could draw a double-team at any conceivable turn, and considering that it would be Nowitzki’s job to free up Terry, that could leave JET wide open. Additionally, if the opponent decides to switch the picks, the Mavs have two alternative options: Nowitzki in the corner over a shorter defender and Haywood/Tyson Chandler for the lob over Barea’s man. From that perspective, the primary action on this play is really the setup in the right corner, which should theoretically open up either Terry or Nowitzki for an open three-point attempt. That Barea ended up with a great look is no coincidence, but I’d wager that this particular result wasn’t even Plan A or B.