Film Session: How Leonard, Aldridge and Simmons Dominated the Warriors

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Opening night in Oracle Arena was shocking to say the least. San Antonio wasn’t supposed to win Kevin Durant’s Warrior debut in the first game of the post Tim Duncan era, especially by 29 points. Kawhi Leonard, Jonathon Simmons, and LaMarcus Aldridge all delivered strong performances that took advantage of Golden State’s primary weakness by attacking the paint.

Kawhi Leonard’s 35 points

Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 35 points, all without making a single three point shot. He dominated while attacking the paint, and he got to the line often because of his quick first step, his athleticism, and his excellent positioning. Leonard hit contested shots and frustrated opponents who defended him well. Leonard ran pick-and-rolls with LaMarcus Aldridge and others, and he feasted in one on one situations against great wing defenders.

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Driving layup against Durant

Tony Parker drives to his right and hits Kawhi with a pass at the three point line. Durant respects Kawhi’s hesitation shot fake, stops his motion, and Leonard drives past to his right for a tough contested layup over Durant. If the audio is Kawhi, it would seem he thought he was fouled on the play.

Catch and shoot over Durant

Durant watches Parker bring the ball up the floor, and Leonard drifts to the corner. Parker passes to Leonard who gets off the long two point shot before Durant can recover and contest the shot effectively.

Drive and kick to Aldridge

Kawhi drives from the left side across lane on Klay Thompson, known for his defensive prowess, but Draymond Green choses to help and leaves LaMarcus Aldridge open at the top of the key. Leonard reads the double team and passes to his teammate who is wide open in an area where he thrives. Thompson guarded Leonard well in this game, but good offense often beats good defense.

Offensive rebound and putback

Leonard drives to the rim against Thompson, who defends the drive well and forces a miss. The rebound falls to the side of the basket that Leonard is on, and he battles Durant for the offensive rebound. Once he secures the ball, he attacks the rim and scores.

Pass to Aldridge in pick and roll

Leonard will be running the pick-and-roll more this year, and he initiates one high with LaMarcus Aldridge. Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala attempt to contain Kawhi’s drive, but he splits the double team with a bounce pass right to the rolling Aldridge.

Isolation on Iguodala

Leonard takes advantage of isolation with no help defenders on the weak side of the floor. Igoudala is known for his defense, but that doesn’t stop Leonard from driving baseline, knocking him off balance and hitting a short, fading floater over him.

Driving layup against Thompson

Kawhi attacks Thompson immediately after catching the pass from Simmons with the same action across the lane that he passed out of to Aldridge earlier. This time Zaza Pachulia doesn’t double, so Leonard puts up the shot over Thompson who couldn’t have played much better defense on the play. The frustrated look on his face after the shot falls says it all.

Pull up jumper over West

Kawhi runs another pick-and-roll here, and this time it doesn’t create an open look but it was still useful. Leonard did get Iguodala to switch off of him for David West, so he patiently backed out of the paint and drilled a pull up elbow jumper right in West’s face.

Steal on Curry, dunk on Durant

Kawhi Leonard is known for his smothering defense, especially when it comes to getting steals by pressuring the ball handler. He swipes it from one of the league’s best ball handlers in Curry, and he immediately drives to basket. Kevin Durant is a step late getting back on defense, and he gets dunked on viciously.

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Isolation against Iguodala

This is a true isolation at the top of the key, as all of Leonard’s teammates are below the break either on the wings or under the basket. He “stalks his prey” for a few unorthodox dribbles, drives left and head fakes Iguodala into the lane to create space for a pull up jumper at the elbow.

Transition against Iguodala

Leonard takes advantage of a quick opportunity to run after Durant fell while making a shot. Kawhi pushes the ball down the floor to his right side against Iguodala, drives toward the baseline on right side of the lane for a tough floating layup.

LaMarcus Aldridge, 26 points/14 rebounds

LaMarcus Aldridge’s presence in the paint could not be matched by anyone on the Golden State side. eight of his 14 rebounds were offensive, helping the Spurs win the rebounding battle 64-41 and outscoring the Warriors 26-15 on second chance opportunities. fHe got most of his points against one of the league’s premier defenders in Draymond Green.

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Post up against Green

Draymond Green plays aggressive, pesky defense on this post up by Aldridge. LMA drives across the lane and past Kevin Durant’s double team for tough right handed layup over Green.

Left open by Green for layup

This play starts at the top of the key with a pick-and-roll from Kyle Anderson and Pau Gasol. This action took Zaza Pachulia out of position on Gaso,l who gets the pass while rolling to the empty rim. Green was forced to rotate and help on Gasol, leaving Aldridge open behind him for the layup.

Offensive rebound and putback

Patty Mills misses a transition layup, and Kawhi is right there for the putback but he misses it too. Aldridge boxed out and stuck with the play even though Leonard had an easy basket, so he was able to clean up the miss at the rim.

Mid range catch and shoot from Kawhi

This is another instance of a teammate’s drive drawing the attention of Draymond Green, leaving Aldridge open for a catch and shoot look at the top of the key.

Post up against Green

Draymond Green could not have played better defense here. LMA can’t back him down and he can’t get past him with a spin move. With Steph Curry helping on the strong side, Aldridge puts his left shoulder into Green’s chest to create space, giving him just enough room to sink a fadeaway from the elbow.

Pick-and-roll from Kawhi

Aldridge steps up and sets a screen for Leonard, drawing Green to the middle of the lane before Leonard cuts right. Green pops out to contain Leonard’s drive, leaving a wide open lane for LMA. Aldridge makes a quick read and darts to the hole, finishing with authority when the bounce pass hits him in the hands.

Left open by Green for catch and shoot

This is a broken play where the ball rolls to an open Aldridge at the top of the key. Again, Green had to rotate to defend the roll man who was not contained. Pachulia seemed unaware that Draymond had picked up his man, and he was very late to close out on the wide open Aldridge.

Offensive rebound and putback

Draymond Green switches on LMA’s pick, and Kawhi drives on him and shoots a 10 foot fadeaway in the lane. The shot is well contested and misses, but watch Aldridge. As soon as Leonard starts his shooting motion, LaMarcus puts his head down and charges at the rim. Pachulia is boxing out Dedmon else and Klay Thompson can’t contain Aldridge who gets position on Pachulia and puts back the miss.

Catch and shoot corner three

Draymond falls asleep with his hands on his hips watching Tony Parker dribble at the top while Aldridge drifts to the weak side corner. Green jumps to defend Parker’s drive on the weak side of the lane, leaving Aldridge open for the corner 3. He didn’t take many shots from long range last year, but expect that to change this season.

Post up against Green

Draymond again gives Aldridge space off the ball, this time on the low block. Green closes the space when LMA catches the pass and he gets his hands up to contest the shot, but he doesn’t get in position to jump and attempt to block the shot. Aldridge puts up the righty hook shot over the flat-footed Green and gets the bucket.

Draws triple team, assists on triple

Aldridge sets a pick for Jonathon Simmons and rolls into the lane. He catches a pass in the low post, drawing the close attention of three smaller defenders. He draws them in further with some footwork and passes out of the lazy triple team to Kyle Anderson in the weak side corner. Anderson drains the open three.

Jonathon Simmons 20 bench points

Jonathon “Juice” Simmons had a bit of a coming out party on Tuesday night. His raw athletic drives to the rim and improved shooting stroke helped him score 20 points off the bench. The Spurs bench, dubbed the Juice Unit by Simmons, outscored the Warriors reserves 54-16. Rim protection and depth may be long term problems for Golden State, and Simmons exposed that. Here’s the broadcast view of his highlights, including two of the most exciting plays in the league on opening night.

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The Baptism of JaVale McGee

This play closed the game for San Antonio, but it opens the highlight for obvious reasons. Jonathon Simmons’ best qualities are his athleticism and his ability to attack the rim, and he showed off both on this highlight reel dunk. JaVale McGee actually makes a decent rotation to get in Juice’s way, but he was already airborne and in the process of throwing it down.

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Aldridge draws defense in paint

LaMarcus Aldridge’s dominant presence in the paint helped open up looks for his teammates. Here, Simmons drifts to an opening in the middle of the paint while Aldridge’s post up commands the attention of Curry, Pachulia, and Draymond Green. Aldridge passes to the open Simmons who hits a nice floater over Draymond Green.

Crafty transition layup

Patty Mills and Simmons had great chemistry in this game, assisting on a number of each other’s buckets. Here, Mills pushes the ball in transition drawing the attention of Curry and Pachulia before passing to a cutting Simmons, who is crafty and composed under pressure at the rim. Pachulia gets in good position and blindly contests the shot, but Simmons displays patience and hesitates mid air to get a wide open layup.

Drive and kick to Patty Mills

Simmons has the ball low on the weak side, so he drives baseline against the bigger, slower David West. Ian Clarke slides down to help, leaving Patty Mills wide open on the strong side wing. Simmons swings a one handed pass out to Mills, who gets the charging Clark to fly past with a pump fake and takes one dribble into a wide open three.

Late clock 3 pointer

On the ensuing inbound, Ginobili makes an athletic deflection at half court and saves it to David Lee, who passes cross-court to Simmons. Nobody picks Simmons up at the arc with 5 seconds left in the first quarter, probably fearing another strong drive. He calmly dibbles into a wide open three, which he sinks to give the Spurs a double digit lead.

Mid range off screen

Simmons and Dewayne Dedmon run a pick-and-roll to the weak side baseline. Klay Thompson and David West both sag off a bit to contain the drive from Simmons and the roll from Dedmon, so Simmons dribbles into an uncontested mid-range jumper that he rattles home.

Corner three after double on Aldridge

This is another play where Simmons benefits from LaMarcus Aldridge’s presence in the post. Shaun Livingston left Simmons to double team LMA in the weak side low block, and Simmons slipped to the strong side corner. Aldridge passes out to Ginobili, who throws a baseball pass to Patty Mills who goes around the horn to Simmons in the corner. Livingston tries to get back to his man, but Dedmon sets a good screen off the ball to prevent that. Juice drains the open 3.

Contested buzzer beating 3

With six seconds left on the clock, Patty Mills drove the ball the length of the floor against lazy defense and flipped it underhand into Simmons’ shooting pocket. The catch and shoot look is well contested by Kevin Durant, but the shot falls and gives the Spurs an 18 point lead at the half.

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Isolation against Thompson

Simmons an isolation on the weak side matched up one on one against one of the league’s best wing defenders, and he takes it right at Klay Thompson. Simmons sets up like he’s going to go to his left off a screen, but instead he takes a quick first step to his right and drives baseline. Nobody is in position to help, and Simmons hits the layup over Thompson.

Chase down block on Curry

San Antonio turns the ball over in the paint, and Steph Curry leaks out for what looks like will be an open layup. Simmons chases down the driving Curry and launches skyward to pin his shot against the backboard from behind him. This incredibly athletic explosion evoked LeBron James and wound up being one of the defining plays of the game.

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