Isoterica Playbook: How the Sky freed Stefanie Dolson for her game-tying 3 vs. the Sparks

Down in Chicago on Friday night, the Sky and Los Angeles Sparks played the game of the season in the WNBA, a double overtime thriller that the Sparks eventually won, 115-106 behind brilliant performances from Nneka Ogwumike (32 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals) and Candace Parker (29 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists).

With the Sparks up by 10 points and just three minutes left to play, however, it seemed unlikely the game would even get to one overtime, let alone two. But thanks to some clutch shooting from the Sky, primarily by Stefanie Dolson, the Sparks had to play an extra two frames to get their win.

Though the Sky still ended up losing it’s worth going back to take a look at one of those big shots by Dolson, the one that sent the game into the first overtime, because it was a such a brilliant play design with a couple different concepts intertwined and customized.

So at first, the Sky set up in an “elevator doors” formation, with Allie Quigley inbounding, and Courtney Vandersloot down in the paint, ready to run through the “doors.”

As Vandersloot makes her way to the top of the key, the “elevator doors” close, and she is free to receive the inbounds pass from Quigley with no pressure.

After taking the pass from Quigley, Vandersloot immediately makes her way towards the right wing, where Cappie Pondexter and Jordan Hooper have set a double screen for her to utilize.

In just about two seconds then, the Sky used an “elevator doors” screen and a double screen on the wing, causing the Sparks’ defenders to scramble around multiple picks and communicate perfectly in order to stick with their marks.

Once Vandersloot uses the double screen and begins to drive baseline, the Sky then initiate the third action on this set. With all the attention focused on Slooty flying through the “elevator doors” and then careening around the double screen on the wing, Dolson sets a backscreen for the inbounder, Quigley.

This is now turning into a sort of baseline hammer look, which involves a backscreen or flare screen on the weak side to free up a shooter in the corner, who receives the pass from along the baseline.

Perhaps realizing this, or perhaps just trying to prevent an elite shooter like Quigley from getting open, both Sparks defenders follow Quigley off the screen.

What they weren’t prepared for, however, was Dolson to turn and spot up for 3 after setting the screen. Driving along the baseline, Vandersloot reads the play, and kicks the ball out to a wide open Dolson.

Just a few seconds after heaving up a deep 3-ball to cut the Sky’s deficit to one, Dolson calmly buries another one to tie the game and send things to overtime.

Just look at that play in real time. Boom. “Elevator doors.” Boom. Double screen on the wing. Boom. Baseline hammer action modified into a pick and pop at the top of the key. Boom. Game-tying triple.

In seven seconds they ran three different actions with multiple screens and sent the Sparks defense scrambling all over the floor, eventually leading to what was, to that point, the biggest shot of the Sky’s season.

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