Fouling at the End of Games

In N.B.A. Basketball by Brock Bourgase

The Lakers experienced an awkward play at the end of of Friday’s game against the Grizzlies. Memphis was up a single point with under twenty seconds remaining but Los Angeles elected not to foul immediately. Eventually, Kobe Bryant ran over and fouled Mike Conley. The Lakers eventually lost by three points. Some areas for improvement: L.A. did not seem to discuss who they would foul if this situation arose. Conley was the best free throw shooter on the court and it might have been possible to trap him in order to steal (hopefully) or force him to give up the …

Offensive Spacing

In N.B.A. Basketball by Brock Bourgase

Spacing forces the defense into difficult choices. This year, the Raptors have greatly improved their outside shooting (36.8% in 2013-14, 12th in N.B.A., compared to 34.3% in 2012-13, 26th in N.B.A.). Spreading out the shooters, with all players engaged in the play, provides Greivis Vasquez with several options when he is double-teamed after a high screen (Dwane Casey substituted Steve Novak into the game for Chuck Hayes immediately before this play). The Grizzlies want to blitz the high rub as time runs down without conceding a high percentage look.  Two outside defenders still attached to Novak and Kyle Lowry.  At …

Brooklyn Nets Ball Movement

In N.B.A. Basketball by Brock Bourgase

Brooklyn Nets Ball Movement: In the fourth quarter of a tied game, the Nets went with a small line-up against the Raptors. Andray Blatched played inside and four guards spaced the floor. Earlier in the position, Paul Pierce had driven into the middle of the court and kicked the ball out. As Deron Williams begins his drive, Pierce is in the way so he must exit cut to the wing so Williams can attack. Amir Johnson leaves Pierce to stop Williams. Brooklyn has the ball in the free throw circle with one player on the weak-side block and three shooters …

Screening Zones

In N.C.A.A. Basketball by Brock Bourgase

Screening zones generates opportunities: Marshall Plumlee sets a possible flare screen on the top of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. When Amile Jefferson sets a ball screen, the middle defender must step up to contest Rasheed’s Sulaimon’s drive. The wings are matched up with Duke’s outside shooters. As the shot goes up, Plumlee rolls to the hoop, in a seam between defenders and towards the likely area for a missed shot to land. He is able to time the rebound perfectly and dunks the putback before any defender is ready. If Sulaimon had turned the corner, Plumlee would have been ready to …

Skill Development Needed for Ball Movement

In Skill Development by Brock Bourgase

The Play Since the Rudy Gay trade, the Toronto Raptors have improved their offensive efficiency to 107 and – according to Zach Lowe – pass the ball thirty more times per game. In their most recent outing, a win versus the Indiana Pacers, Terrence Ross and DeMar DeRozan converted several quick hitters off BLOBs and pindown screens. There were several plays involving multiple ball reversals, secondary assists and more passes than dribbles. This High Ball Screen / Pin-down combination gashed the Pacers throughout the game.

Denver Nuggets Ball Movement Leads to Dunk

In N.B.A. Basketball by Brock Bourgase

Denver Nuggets Ball Movement Leads to Dunk: Since the Miami Heat are known for aggressively trapping ball screens in order to force the action away from the basket, the Nuggets set multiple screens during the same play.  On one occasion, J.J. Hickson slips the screen and rolls to the hoop.  Ty Lawson passes the ball to Darrell Arthur, a reliable jump shooter from that spot, which causes a chain reaction of bad rotations. Miami is confused as to who will cover Arthur, Hickson and Randy Foye in the corner.  LeBron James feels that he cannot leave Wilson Chandler, Ray Allen …

Offensive Execution

In N.B.A. Basketball by Brock Bourgase

The execution of these plays (the process) led to two different outcomes in Chicago’s 82-81 win over New York.  The Bulls involved everyone in their set, although it was designed the entire time for Derrick Rose to take the shot.  On the other hand, the Knicks don’t seem involved in helping to get Carmelo Anthony open or moving into a passing lane once he gets the ball.  Chicago had more diverse and more effective options as their play unfolded. In the first play, Jimmy Butler uses an elevator screen from Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer to get open at the …

Protect the Rim

In N.B.A. Basketball by Brock Bourgase

Not only did the outcome (a buzzer beater to win the game) suggest that Indiana should have defended Miami’s last shot differently but the process behind the Pacers defense was also flawed. Michael Jordan may have said that he would force LeBron James to the left (however, I think that he would have cut him off before the rim). The zone shooing percentage of the Heat players suggested that the Pacers should have used 7’ Roy Hibbert, helped from anyone but Ray Allen or double-teamed the ball to force LeBron to pull-up or pass. Indiana could not have been surprised …

Toronto Raptors Clutch Defense

In N.B.A. Basketball by Brock Bourgase

We’ve seen this before. A hot shooter pulls up at the top of the key, given plenty of room, and drills the winning shot as time expires. The remaining defenders could have helped by closing the paint but they were standing still, out of the way and unable to help if they wanted to. During the preceding the team should have discussed how they would guard a game-winning shot attempt and prioritized who should stay on their check and who should help. I think the team should have focused on Kyrie Irving and Wayne Ellington and forced Dion Waiters and Shaun Livingston …

When Duke Doesn’t Rebound

In N.C.A.A. Basketball by Brock Bourgase

Duke lost to North Carolina State 84-76 on Saturday, their first loss of the season. Although there were some injuries, the Blue Devils were too focused on the outside and not aggressive enough, as has been the case in many high profile losses. Many times, the Blue Devils were out of position and Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie pounded Duke inside and on the glass.

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Motivational Rocks

In Mental Training by Brock Bourgase

Toronto’s two main coaches appear to be using the same motivational playbook lately.  Last year, Dwane Casey arranged for a 1,300 pound boulder to be placed in the Raptors dressing room, in order to reinforce the team’s “Pound the Rock” motto. During off-season renovations, Randy Carlyle decided to install a slab of limestone, which weighs over five thousand pounds, to demonstrate that the organization is “Rock Solid.” Although Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment often tolerates the status quo, they were not apparently not satisfied with the Thornhill quarry that provided last year’s stone, purchasing the from a location in Wiarton …

Raptors Bench Scoring

In N.B.A. Basketball by Brock Bourgase

I am critical of the Toronto Raptors when they perform poorly on offense or defense so to be consistent I will highlight an example of good execution. Last night, the second unit created a number of high percentage scoring changes, enabling Toronto’s bench to outscore their Cleveland counterparts by a 59-21 margin. Rather than attempting a static ballscreen for two players as others watched, every Raptors player was involved in the play. They took advantage of cavalier Cavaliers defense but had good options that would have succeeded against a disciplined team. John Lucas made a three-point shot but he could …

Bad Help Defense

In N.B.A. Basketball by Brock Bourgase

Sometimes, you have to avoid the easy play early in the possession (bad switches) so you aren’t under the gun later (mismatches). Sometimes, you have to anticipate what will happen next so you can prioritize what to guard. Sometimes, you have to closeout better than Courtney Kirkland. BTW: Joe Johnson hit one of his four threes on this play.

High Pick and Roll Breakdown

In N.B.A. Basketball by Brock Bourgase

It’s easy to say that the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors are vastly different teams (and they are if one evaluates outcomes). On the offensive end, the Spurs boast a rating of 104.9 and an effective field goal percentage of 53.2 while the Raptors lament their 97.3 efficiency and 46.9 eFG%. The massive difference between the squad comes from a lot of little things. Yes, San Antonio is more talented and experienced but even if both teams had similar skill levels, the Spurs would still come out ahead. While Toronto treated their fans to a five-game road trip featuring …

Bad Habits on Defense

In N.B.A. Basketball by Brock Bourgase

The Toronto Raptors have some bad habits which have really hurt their performance this year. A lack of ball pressure is allowing penetration into the paint (drive and pass) and demanding help. These shots close to the basket and open looks become high performance scoring chances for the opportunity. On the ball, players could improve their quickness (footwork and hands).  Away from the ball, team members could be in better position, be more aware of the opponents around them and rotate in anticipation, not reaction. Screen and roll defense is very passive. A ballscreen can be an opportunity for the …

Before and After Mike Brown

In N.B.A. Basketball by Brock Bourgase

6 Changes the Los Angeles Lakers have made since the start of the season: After Mike Brown was fired after five games and a 1-4 start, the Lakers have gone 4-1.  Early reviews of Mike D’Antoni in practice have been positive but his offensive philosophy has not really changed how Los Angeles has performed.  Offensive Efficiency and Effective Field Goal Percentage are about the same (still better than the league average) but defensive effort is much improved. The team is allowing less penetration into the paint and has committed fewer fouls.  Turnover rate, perhaps because of new players, lack of …