Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Triangle Adjustments

Today we will look at how slight adjustments to the offense can be made to counter the strategies of the defense.

In yesterday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Lakers tried to pound the Thunder with their obvious size advantange.  To combat this advantage, the Thunder aggressively denied any looks to the post.  However, the Lakers were still able to execute after making some small changes to their offense.

Here we see a solo between Kobe and Bynum quickly fall apart.  The ball is swung to Derek Fisher at the wing position and a triangle is formed:
- Fisher at the wing
- Artest in the corner
-Bynum in the post
It's here that we see a Laker adjustment.  Pau and Kobe exchange positions after Pau sets a screen for Kobe.  Kobe then receives the N.2 pass up top at defensive balance.  As soon as Kobe touches the ball, all five Thunder defenders commit to Kobe, leaving Fisher open.  Fisher pass fakes to keep Kevin Durant on Ron Artest.  Fisher then drives but fails to convert on the tough runner.

Here we see the exchange again:

We see Lamar Odom make a direct entry into the wing position, pushing Steve Blake into the corner as Luke Walton does a poor job of acquiring deep post position.  Meanwhile we see Gasol screen for Brown for the exchange of positions. Odom makes the two pass to the top keying two actions:
- Pau to the pinch post
- Odom runs a rebound screen cut
Brown feeds Pau in the pinch post.  Ibaka, who is defending Odom, tries to prevent Odom from screening for Blake, leaving Odom a lane to the basket.  Odom cuts to the basket and seals Ibaka, allowing Pau to make the high low pass to Odom for an easy layup.

In this clip we see the Lakers run the UCLA cut sequence.  Durant does a good job of forcing Kobe away from Gasol's screen while Ibaka stays back ready to help.  Kobe gets to ball to Gasol who swings the ball to Fisher.  A triangle is formed with:
- Fisher at the wing
- Odom at the corner
- Artest in the post
Pau and Kobe run the exchange and Kobe receives the ball.  Kobe immediately drives, drawing the attention of the defense.  Unfortunately, Pau is unable to convert on the jumper.

In the first half, the Thunder were able to get the Lakers to shoot a mesely 3 for 8 (with 2 turnovers) on plays where a center opposite was run.  The Thunder did this by going over the top of the rub screen, denying deep post position, and fronting.  In the second half the Lakers made their adjustment:

Here we see the standard center opposite setup: Blake lag passes to Brown who enters the ball into Odom in the wing as Blake cuts across to the corner.  It's here that we see the adjustment.  Pau Gasol sets his rub cut up 15 feet at the elbow (usually it's set up around 10 feet so that the man cutting across can go straight into the post area).  This gives Artest space to gather speed on the move before Durant can setup to deny the post.

From here, a two pass is made to Artest in the post keying:
- Odom to run an action zone speed cut
- Blake to speed cut the baseline
- Brown to fan away to the garden spot
Artest makes his move, drawing the Thunder defense and leaving Blake wide open for the most efficient jump shot in the game.

This clip we see another elbow center opposite.  This time the Thunder defense counters by going under the rub screen.  This forces Artest to set up at the highpost.  The two pass is made to Artest.  Kobe decides to run a rebound screen cut.  Fisher step fakes the baseline then comes off Kobe's screen to receive a handoff from Artest.  The ball is moved to Odom who feeds Pau in the post.  The Thunder go to double Gasol, leaving Fisher a deep (but wide open) three.  Fisher hesitates, allowing his defender to recover and Fisher is forced to fire a contested three as the shot clock winds down.

In the fourth quarter, we see the Thunder once again go under the rub screen.  Kobe receives the ball at the elbow and Artest runs a rebound screen cut.  Odom decides to go away from Artest's screen giving Kobe an iso against James Harden.  Kobe explodes out of his triple threat and drills a tough contested jumper.

The defense is constantly changing the looks they are willing to concede to the offense.  To counter these different tactics, nothing extremely dramatic needs to be done.  Subtle changes allow the offense to be run consistently while keeping the defense honest.

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