With 3:22 remaining in the fourth quarter Wednesday of their season opener, the San Antonio Spurs were holding onto a slim 95-92 lead over the Minnesota Timberwolves. At that time in the game, the Spurs had the offensive possession and Manu Ginobili and Danny Green initiated the Spurs’ typical floppy route.
From there though, the Spurs went to one of their old plays that still remains effective today in late game situations – the baseline HAMMER set. What was interesting about the Hammer set on this night was that it was the brand new Spur Rudy Gay who delivered the key pass on the money to Green for the made corner three. After Green made the shot, the Spurs’ lead went up to six points with 3:12 left in the game and San Antonio went on to defeat Minnesota.
In this play diagram piece, we’ll take a look at just how the Spurs completed the Hammer set from start to finish. Below are the routes and instructions on paper.
Next, you can see the play in its full execution in the video below.
Why was this play effective?
In order for the set to be effective, the player delivering the baseline pass has to have the ability to make that difficult baseline pass, and Gay has that ability. Another crucial element is the Hammer screen set by Aldridge. If Aldridge doesn’t get in the way of Green’s defender, then Gay might end up throwing directly to the defender or turning the ball over by going out of bounds. Lastly, though Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili seem like they’re not doing much off the ball, they really are by moving around to keep their defenders from helping on Gay in the post.
In just his first Spurs game, Gay has shown he’s capable of delivering a signature pass only a few Spurs have been capable of making in the past.