BY DAVID THORPE
Last Wednesday, the Lakers and Bucks—two recent Finalists who didn’t expect to be stuck in the middle of the standings—battled their way through four lead changes before the Bucks pulled slightly ahead in the fourth quarter. Giannis Antetokounmpo sliced into the lane, trailed by Talen-Horton Tucker, with a little over two minutes left and the Bucks up seven. You got the feeling a bucket could end it. The question was: Could Khris Middleton—guarded by Anthony Davis on the perimeter—get Giannis the ball?
Giannis already won an MVP award for scoring at the rim, and had 42 points in this one. All five Lakers had to know what was about to happen once Horton-Tucker switched onto him. Giannis would take the smaller defender deep into the paint and wait for a pass. THT went into a full front position, which did two things: 1. Prevented any pass, except for a lob. 2. Placed a bet on his teammates to help.
The lob is often a very slow pass. As it travels overhead, there is time for the nearest defender to come in and help, in this case to make it hard for Giannis to catch and finish. The scene is ripe for a steal.
Even better, there was a Laker with a foot in the paint, in fantastic position to help. But Russell Westbrook did nothing.