Fratello Fundamentals

When a game is on the line you have to make high percentage plays. Dwyane Wade prides himself on making the right decisions when it matters most. He’s come through for the Heat in the clutch countless times. “I pride myself in certain moments of games,” Wade lamented after he was unable to close Monday’s disappointing one-point loss to the Cavs.

But even the greats make mistakes. Hit with a double team in the final seconds of the game, Wade went with a behind-the-back pass to forward Udonis Haslem. LeBron got a hand on the ball, made out with the steal, drew the foul and hit two free throws to take the game 92-91

When faced with the double team Wade had a few options: he could split the defense, pass out, or circle back towards half-court to set up again.

Trying to dribble through a double team comprised of LeBron and Jawad would have been too risky given the Heat’s one-point lead with under ten seconds remaining in the game. Passing to newly freed-up Haslem was a sound strategy that would have allowed the Heat’s offense to exploit a four-to-three advantage in the paint.

But the behind-the-back pass is difficult to execute because you’re not squared-up to your target. Instead your body is turned sideways with your shoulder towards the target and you must rely on your peripheral vision. Though it’s certainly in Wade’s arsenal, perhaps he should have been more patient with his pass selection.

Better to retreat from the double team if necessary rather than force a bad pass. And if you pick up your dribble and get trapped your teammates should come to your rescue – as D-Wade will no doubt come through for Miami the next chance he gets.

[nba-video vid=channels/top_plays/2010/01/25/]


  1. Dolan op den Buijsch says:

    Hi Mike,

    You’re absolutely right about having to play safe in the late minutes of a game, especially a close one.
    Tho the pass to Haslem was the best option and could’ve been executed in several fundamentally sound ways (of which you mentioned), I think that Dwayne Wade didn’t make that big of a mistake.

    If he would’ve curled up to half-court to get some space, I personally think that James and Williams would have the chance to put even more pressure on Wade. Probably, they (any NBA player) also know how to play a good double-team. Any pass is made difficult by a double team, especially when they are physically bigger then you.

    My point is, I think the double team “forced” Dwayne into this unorthodox pass, not only because of the lack of options, but also because of the element of surprise (which obviously wasn’t that big of a surprise). As you can see, Williams is not close enough to James to close the gap between them, and still a cutting player like Wade decides not to go through it. The cross-pass on the top is disarmed by Williams playing higher up then he is supposed to do in a double team.

    This time, it was good offense against good defense.


    Dolan op den Buijsch, Weert, Netherlands.

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