LeBron James showed off his superhuman memory in Game 4, sniffing out and shutting down a very familiar Warriors’ set before it could unfold.
The Lakers’ defense has done a fantastic job against the Warriors, helping them build to a 3-1 series lead. They’ve shut down the paint and limited both free throws and layups. They’ve held the Warriors to just 109.3 points per 100 possessions, well below their regular season mark of 115.1, and ramped things up even further in clutch situations, holding the Warriors to 94.6 points per 100 possessions in the fourth quarter.
Personnel has played a key part of this — Anthony Davis swarming anything around the basket, Jarred Vanderbilt chasing Steph Curry off every screen. But the veteran savvy and experience of these Lakers can’t be understated. Watch below as LeBron directs a pair of off-ball switches to shut down a Klay Thompson corner 3-pointer out of a set he’d seen the Warriors run years before when he was still with the Cavs.
How did LeBron James know this Warriors play was coming?
To be fair, LeBron may not have recognized this exact play from this exact instance years ago. It’s a variation on a fairly common “hammer” action that Gregg Popovich and the Spurs popularized and which he has seen a handful of other teams run over the years as well. Check out the Basketball Dictionary entry on this play and you’ll see examples of a half-dozen teams running it, including the Lakers and LeBron.
It’s also worth mentioning that the play is named for Darvin Ham, LeBron’s coach. It originated with Ham, George Karl and the Milwaukee Bucks and was initially designed as an action to get Ray Allen open for a corner 3.
So, yes, good on LeBron for sniffing this one out. But it’s a common enough set that everyone on the Lakers should have been to catch this one in plenty of time.
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