N.B.A. ATO Plays

In N.B.A. Basketball, Plays by Brock Bourgase

The first play after a timeout is an opportune time to re-establish stability on the offensive end and return to the team’s core principles. During play, the philosophy can become lost as emotions take over but coaches can take advantage of the break provided by the timeout to get back to basics.

For some teams, basics means getting the ball inside to the post. Recent Toronto Raptors opponents the San Antonio Spurs (Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge) and Sacramento Kings (DeMarcus Cousins) have exceptional post players so they chose to counter a Toronto run by getting the ball inside. Little adjustments disrupted the defense and dissipated their momentum, in addition to providing the primary option more room to operate. However, each team decided to go about it in a different way and began with an offensive action designed to space the floor and isolate the post.

San Antonio Post Iso: Gregg Popovich diagrams a series of pin down screens. Danny Green inbounds the ball and runs to a position under the basket so that he can use either side. He uses the Aldridge pin down and cuts to the left wing. Aldridge then uses screens from Duncan and Kawhi Leonard and recives the ball on the right baseline. After Tony Parker reposts Aldridge, he cuts through to occupy the help so that Aldridge can post up Luis Scola and score.

Sometimes, forcing the ball inside at first glance is challenging: from finding a passing lane to deliver the ball to getting to the rim. Moving the ball from side to side and inside and out shifts the defense and creates more room. Also, the pin down actions and cuts occupy help defenders who cannot stray too far from their man.

Sacremento Post Iso: George Karl calls for deliberate play to slow the Raptors’ momentum and gain a good shot. Darren Collison dribbles the ball up the court. Cousins screens as Omri Casspi sets a pindown screen for Rudy Gay. Cousins screens away for Gay who sets a ball screen as Cousins rolls. Casspi sets a pindown screen for Marco Belinelli as the Kings space the floor. Collison passes to Belinelli on the elbow, who passes back to Collison, who swings it to Gay, who enters into the post, who kicks to the weakside to Casspi. Toronto’ help defenders watch the ball and do not X out, creating an open shot.

It would be easier to run a ball screen after the timeout so the misdirection of several on-ball and off-ball screens distracts the defense from stopping the primary goal of the play. By the time the ball has gone inside, Cousin’s defender has shifted sides and attempted to hedge so they are much less established than had the ball gone there first. Help is required and the recovery is not quick enough.