Fratello Fundamentals

Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

As a player whose job it is to set a screen on offense, you should always look to see if your defender is stepping out early to help his teammate defend on the cutter. If he steps out too early on a regular basis, a counter to that is to slip the screen toward the basket. In doing so you will produce an easy layup or dunk and you will also discourage that defender from showing on future possessions for fear of giving up the wide-open shot.

Defending the post man is a rigorous assignment, both physically and mentally. The challenge is even greater when guarding the likes of Kevin Garnett with Rajon Rondo pushing the offense. Pau Gasol was in the hot seat when the Celtics and Lakers last met. Boston was killing it from the perimeter, and Ray Allen in particular was on fire. Early in the third quarter, Boston established a commanding 11-point lead thanks to a swift seven-point run by Allen. On their next possession, the Lakers were prepared to shut down Allen, but the Celtics’ offense outsmarted the Lakers’ defense.

When setting up the play it appeared that Rondo would again dish to Allen for a jumper off the screen. To prevent Allen from getting his hands on the ball, Gasol hedged out to get an arm in the passing lane – leaving Garnett momentarily unmanned in the paint. The Celtics had likely observed that Gasol was showing a lot in previous trips down the floor, so they countered by faking the screen.

Rondo instantly reacted and looked for Garnett, who did exactly what he was supposed to do – he slipped to the basket to dunk for an easy two. All it took was a split second for the Celts’ offense to adjust and take advantage of the breach in the back line of defense. The result was a Rondo-to-Garnett dunk – a beautiful counter to the Lakers’ defense.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: