Explain One Play: Stephen Curry's special defense to attack Ja Morant
Good old High Tag
A list of all Explain One Play articles and videos is at The new Explain One Play index.
For long-time followers, you’ll know that I never do Explain One Play for losses, because frankly I’m grouchy. But I’m trying an experiment for this 2021.10.28.MEM-GSW game.
The game was kind of a bummer, I guess that's what happens when you give up 20 plus turnovers and get it to the end of the game where it's one possession, which means it's going to be a random ending.
When it's that close, it's always some freak play like an eight second violation or someone gets a rebound or. a shot just doesn't go in. So the Warriors just let it get random. And then in overtime, more randomness and the Memphis Grizzlies played great defense and they just pulled it out.
But I want to talk about things that happened right before the overtime. MEM had the lead and tried to isolate Ja Morant on Stephen Curry twice and both times the Warriors used a special defense, High Tag, to neutralize the advantage.
We look at the origin of High Tag as technology against LeBron James, and examples of Steph using it against James Harden and Demar DeRozan, and then finally the key plays in crunch time of regulation.
Co-starring Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and a clutch shooting Damion Lee.
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Dowtin not bad with SC, 20 on good efficiency, +5. We should try him.
Ah, high tag. I've noticed some other teams (was it Portland in the preseason, maybe?) doing a kind of similar defense, committing to a whole high trap on Steph for a couple moments, but then one of them recovers away pretty quickly.
The biggest weakness of proper high tag is that during the recovery after the tag there can be a gap where the ball handler is wide open for a long three, so it doesn't work that well against guys who are happy to pull up from that distance. I'm guessing that's why other teams do a harder high trap on Steph, rather than the quick "high-five, I'm out" switch/unswitch that worked on vintage LeBron. (Maybe it's worse on him now that he shoots more & better but drives less?) Probably the Warriors would apply the same principle (trap instead of tag) to defend, say, Lillard.
Anyway it's cool the Warriors used this to get the ball out of Morant's hands and tie the game. It looks like they either got the go-ahead or forced overtime, but for some reason I can't remember what happened after that. Oh well, looking forward to the next one!