Pistons’ Last -Minute OB Play. Good Offense or Bad Defense?
Posted by Steve Bzomowski on May 23, 2008
The last minute Baseline OB play the Pistons ran that the Celtics defended very poorly and that really hurt the Cs is a classic NBA-type play. How to guard that type play, the decisions made on the bench during the time-out, and how the defense (and offense) execute it, is a great lesson in basketball.
Before you watch, it’s helpful to understand that there are three possible options:
1. the play is really designed for the 2nd cutter, Hamilton, who has a choice of which way to go but clearly intends to use the Wallace screen (going to his right) in the right corner. Just as clearly, the Celtics anticipated that and every movement and positioning by the defense says so.
2. the obvious option is the 1st cutter, Billups, who ultimately scores here, coming off the staggered screens (one screen followed by another). As Jeff Van Gundy (definitely in my top 3 all-time analysts) says in the YouTube replay, the Celtics failed to cover this by not having Pierce, who was guarding the inbounder, take away the middle (which is absolutely fundamental). That much we can guess was a coaching decision;
3. if Garnett helps too much, Wallace shows himself for the catch and shoot.
By positioning Pierce shading corner, the Celtics showed what they anticipated to be the play: shot for Hamilton in the corner. Tom Thibodeau, (a Van Gundy disciple) clipboard in hand, days worth of watching film behind him, knew what the play was to be and got the Cs ready to defend it. The choice to shade the corner was a bad one. Especially if you don’t help on the Billups cut! Sorry Tom. Something went awry. You don’t give-up the possibility of a layup to defend a corner jumper. Let the perimeter defense adjust to the cutters but have Pierce guard the hoop!
It starts with Hamilton setting the 1st screen for Billups; Billups cuts right and catches another screen from Wallace. Garnett shows just a touch, not wanting to leave Wallace. Could he have bumped Billups and recovered? That would have helped. Posey was trailing Billups. What if Posey had gone under the screen and Garnett switched to Billups, Posey now on Wallace? Rondo could have still trailed Rip.
But that’s why you set screens, and that’s why you cut shoulder-to-shoulder, and that’s why you place your offensive personnel in optimal positioning, and, lastly, that’s why you always guard the hoop first.