In the first three games of the series, the Golden State Warriors made the life of the Dallas Mavericks miserable. The Warriors handled Luca Donsic better than both the Jazz and the Sun, making it difficult for him to survive the attack and using a large dose of zone defense.

In Game 4, the Warriors played a ton of zone defense, but Luca sheds light on how it can be revealed by doing something that everyone is asking him to do throughout the season: cut the ball.

Zone protection works relatively well when Luca passes the ball and stays steady outside the 3-point line. This way it is much easier to protect other children. But things get tougher when Luca puts the ball on the deck and attacks the rim. Then, when his teammates have the ball and it is basically impossible to defend it, make some off-ball cuts.

Luca dropped his dribble and passed the ball to Frank Antilicina – which is what you are used to seeing. But what he does differently this time is that instead of putting pressure on Frank to make a dribble, he just pushes his defender back who was more committed to throwing the pump. Drymond Green is the man who was supposed to defend Rim in the play, but he turns his back on Luke and assumes he won’t cut Rim without taking the ball in his hand. Luca runs to the rim and pays him, and Frank is easily helped.

Later, in the fourth quarter, Jalen Branson’s ball was in the corner and the other four boys were placed around the perimeter. Normally, this is a play that Brunson will have to create for himself, and it will be a toss-up to see if it will work when the shot clock is in the wind. But look at this:

In the play above, Luca takes advantage of the Jordan Pool sleeping at the top of the Warriors zone and cuts to the middle of the floor where Brunson gives him the ball and Luca Pirates gives the rim.

That’s where the Maoists need Luca. When he leaves the ball, he opens the entire offense and renders the Warriors zone defense useless.

Luca is one of the brightest basketball minds in the world, so it’s no surprise that he discovered this. He needs to lock enough (and in good enough shape) to cut consistently even if he can’t get the ball. Whether you get a pass or not, it is always helpful to make tough cuts when you are in a competitive zone.

Luca was considering another way to punish the zone defense when he didn’t have a match at the top. See here:

In the play, Luca brings the ball to the floor and Jordan Poole at the top of the zone is immediately noticed. He immediately turns around and starts to push back the pool. He angles his post-up to get away from the help defense and then easily overpowers the pool and gets the layup.

These are the little things that turn into big things. Naturally, the big story of Game 4 is that the Mavericks are a good team when they make three (shocking!), But the little things like cutting the ball and finding inconsistencies consume the defensive spirit and make your team look more open. The game progresses.

Is it too late for Mavals to win this series? Probably. Only time will tell. But Luke’s off-ball movement is something he needs to keep making progress in his career. It’s the kind of thing that sets his play apart from the much-compared Prime James Harden.

Topics #basketball news #Luka Donsik