Yesterday I wrote a piece on how the Grizzlies different style of play from the Thunder was playing into the refs hands as many of these “Points of Emphasis” favor perimeter offense over defense.
Today I want to focus on one of these points that could play a part in tonight’s game: illegal screens.
Illegal screens are the 2nd point of emphasis, which suggests that this is one of the most important things the league’s office wants the referees to focus on. An aspect of illegal screens the referees are being asked to pay attention to is setting screens with a wide base, having your feet planted outside of your shoulder width.
I point this issue out in particular due to an excellent article written by the Thunder beat writer. In it he uses examples of how setting “better” picks would free up Durant for easier shot attempts. While what he is suggesting is true, both examples he uses actually involved the Thunder player setting an illegal pick. Neither time was the illegal pick called however.
Take a look at this screen set by Nick Collison:
As you can clearly see, Collison’s feet are well outside of his shoulders. Not only has that but Collison then leaned into the defender to further push him outside of his line. This is illegal according to the rules and the type of play that referees are being asked to watch for more closely.
Here is another example of the type of screens the writer believes the Thunder need:
In the article’s second example of how the Thunder need to set picks Kendrick Perkins actually sets up rather well but fails to hold his position and basically muscled Allen away from Durant. This too is illegal and should be called.
You may ask how I know this is illegal. After all, I am not a self-proclaimed expert on NBA rules much less an actual referee. It’s a fair point however I know this because the league has a video out explaining what is and isn’t a legal screen.
This video was released this season so it is current interpretations. They clearly point out that both of these situations are illegal and needs to be called as offensive fouls.
Which brings us to tonight’s game. The fans need to make sure the referees are making these calls against the Thunder as they try to find ways to free up Durant from Allen’s pressure defense. If the Grizzlies get the calls then they will have a far easier time both defending Durant and imposing their will in the paint as the Thunder’s big men collect fouls.