Game 2: Improving Toronto’s Screen and Roll Game

In N.B.A. Basketball by Brock Bourgase

When all five players are involved in a screen and roll, the defense cannot simply collapse and play the drive and the roll. Passing lanes open, space in the paint expands and high percentage scoring chances develop. The increased movement also permits those away from the ball to crash the offensive glass.

In Game 1 of the playoff series, Brooklyn was able to blitz Toronto’s ball screens and limit their passing chances. down 1-0, the home team performed much better in Game 2 at the offensive end (when they did not turn the ball over as a result of an error) and forced the help defense to make more adjustments. due to more dynamic play, The Raptors were able to beat the Nets 100-95.

Here are four examples of plays that mixed up the screen and roll action. Not every ball screen was well-executed but these screens were particularly effective and resulted in aggressive drives and shots in the paint.

“Horns” Clearout: Instead of balancing the floor and remaining still, which would allow Brooklyn to hedge on the ball screen and cover the roll to the paint, Toronto puts both wings on the same side and sends the roller directly down the middle of the key. Patrick Patterson sets a back screen for DeMar DeRozan and receives the ball at the top of the key. He gives it back to Greivis Vasquez uses a Jonas Valančiūnas screen as Terrence Ross cuts through. Although Mirza Teletović bumps him as he rolls, there is no help at the rim to stop Valančiūnas from getting the ball and finishing.

“Short”:The Phoenix Suns would often run this set to free up a shooter at the top of the key when the defense focused on the screen and roll. In this case, Kyle Lowry catches the ball at the top of the key and uses his speed to attack. As DeRozan advances the ball, Lowry sets a little down screen to force Andrei Kirilenko to switch on to him. Amir Johnson later sets a high screen. As DeRozan uses the screen, three defenders are with him. He keeps his dribble alive, Johnson rolls to the rim and Lowry comes high. Since Kirilenko is slower and off-balance, Lowry drives hard to the basket and scores.

Baseline Screen: Normally, the defense helps by closing the paint but changing the angle of the screen may catch the hedger off-guard while confusing the help defense. Firstly, the Raptors change up the ball screen by having Valančiūnas set it to the baseline side. Vasquez drives hard the Toronto players not involved in the action continue to move without the ball. DeRozan receives the pass and could shoot it but he sees a better shot so he attacks and finishes strong.

Multiple Screens: It is easy to hedge and trap one ball screen but when the play continues with multiple actions, defenses are always playing catch up. This play shows some characteristics of the San Antonio Spurs’ offense sets because of the various types of screens. After a running DeRozan off two screens to get open, Amir Johnson quickly sets a ball screen for DeRozan. Before the defense can collapse, the ball is reversed to Lowry and Valančiūnas sets another screen. Lowry’s quickness allows him to drive by the shifting defense and finish at the rim.