Sunday, February 13, 2011

Center Opposite Counters

In today's post we will see what the Lakers have come up with to counter teams that are ready to stop the center opposite.

Two Thursday's in a row the Lakers faced off against two of the top contenders on national TV.  Against the Spurs, the Lakers were having a tough time executing the center opposite.

In the second half we saw the Lakers run this play:

  In this clip, we see a lag pass from the lead guard Derek Fisher to the off guard Kobe Bryant.

Normally the ball would be swung to Ron Artest which would initiate a center opposite.  Instead, Kobe keeps the ball.  Andrew Bynum, who would normally ready himself to set the rub screen for Pau Gasol, goes to the high post to screen for Fisher (who would normally just cut across the lane to the opposite corner). Pau clears to the opposite block as Bynum goes up to set a screen for Kobe.  Bynum sets a solid screen forcing Duncan to play Kobe's drive and Kobe pulls up for an easy jumper.

The next time down, the Lakers ran the same play:

Again the lag pass is made but Kobe keeps the ball.  Bynum steps up to set a screen.  Duncan is ready this time and manages to contest Kobe's jumper but Kobe drills the shot anyways.

Last Thursday the Lakers started the second quarter against the Celtics with this play:

Again we see a lag pass and this time Pau steps up to the elbow.  Instead of a pick and roll, the ball is entered into Pau who hands the ball off to Steve Blake.  Blake and Pau then go into a quick pick and pop.  Pau passes up the open jumper to post up the smaller Pierce but ends up getting his shot blocked.

Later in the 3rd quarter the Lakers would again run this play:

The lag pass to pick and roll is initiated.  The Celtics are so committed to stopping Kobe that no one is left to rotate over and stop the high low Gasol to Bynum dunk.

When the defense begins to deny the formation of a strong side triangle, the ball can be swung and a center opposite can be used to disguise the formation of a triangle on the weakside.  When the defense begins to jump the center opposite, this simple counter can be executed to keep the defense honest.  The options of the triangle are quite simple and easy for a defense to anticipate, but the offense's versatility gives the triangle unpredictable depth. 

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