Fratello Fundamentals

When you lead by 2 in the final seconds of a game, do not under any circumstances allow your opponent to get behind the 3-point line and launch a shot.

Monday night’s Nets-Spurs matchup was a nail-biter that came down to the final two possessions in overtime. Anthony Morrow scored 9 points in last 20 seconds of the fourth quarter and knocked down a huge, off-balance shot as the clock wound down to keep the Nets alive and take the game to overtime.

New Jersey had a 2-point advantage with 9 seconds remaining in OT, but Phoenix had possession. So the Nets had to get up there and play the Suns at the 3-point line. If the Suns scored inside the arc it would still be a tie game. But the Nets could not afford to allow them to get behind the 3-point line and win the game with a single shot as Channing Frye had done the previous night in Indiana when he sank a 3 at the buzzer for the win over the Pacers.

The Suns set up the inbounds play, Gortat set a screen for Frye, and Frye managed to get open for the pass. He stepped back, lined up a 3 and buried it to give the Suns the 1-point lead with 6.6 seconds left to play. When the Suns needed it most, Frye delivered again. The Nets nearly converted on their subsequent possession, but Humphries’ tip-in was just a fraction of a second too late, so the Suns held on for the 1-point win in overtime: 104-103.

When you see your teammate screened you have to switch out and get to the 3-point shooter. What happened was Nash faked a slice, and Humphries was anticipating the switch with Nash so he did not follow Frye off the pick right away. Frye stepped off the screen and parlayed the trigger from Hill into the game-winner for the second night in a row.

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Channing Frye was deadly from the arc firing back-to-back game-winners against the Pacers & Nets.

Fratello Fundamentals

When you set a screen on a defender you must plant your feet and remain stationary, keeping your arms close to your torso. If you hold, lean or move into the defender to cause contact you will be charged with an illegal screen foul, and the ball will be turned over to the opposing team.

You can’t cut into the defender’s path and hit him with a screen while he’s on the move. If you step into the defender while he’s moving to cover his man, it’s a foul.

During Thursday’s matchup against the Blazers, Carmelo Anthony got his fifth foul because he knocked into his teammate’s defender rather than planting himself firmly alongside him when he attempted to set an on-ball screen.

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Fratello Fundamentals

In order to set an effective screen, you must establish the proper angle so that you screen the majority of the defender’s body and not just a piece of him.

During last week’s Kings-Nets broadcast I told Ian that my gripe of the night was that nobody screens anybody anymore. I watched Sacramento try to set screens, but they missed the bodies and weren’t paying attention to their positions.

Don’t screen air. Go headhunt the defender’s body. Whether you set a tight screen right up against him or stop short of the defender so that the dribbler can run him into you, the important thing is to angle your body so that the defender can’t go over your screen or under it without leaving your teammate clear for a wide-open jump shot.

You must set a screen at the proper angle in order to successfully block your opponent and free up your teammate.

Fratello Fundamentals

Lamar Odom #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers takes the shot against Glen Davis #11 of the Boston Celtics in Game Three of the 2010 NBA Finals on June 8, 2010When you have an opportunity to take the final shot of the quarter, let the clock run down sufficiently before shooting in order to prevent your opponent from rebounding a miss in time to get another shot off.

In Game 3 of the NBA Finals, the Celtics had possession of the ball with 27.5 seconds left in the first quarter. In order to beat the 24-second clock, Wallace threw up a 3-point shot with 4.9 seconds remaining and missed. Fisher rebounded the ball and threw a long pitch ahead to Odom, who made a running layup and drew the foul with just .7 seconds left in the quarter. Odom sank his free throw and the Lakers wound up converting the defensive rebound into a three-point play, stretching their lead from six points to nine heading into the second quarter.

When you have possession in the final stretch, it is critical not to shoot the ball too early. Run the shot clock down to approximately 5-6 seconds before starting your attack to the basket. It will take a few seconds for the play to develop and you can get the shot off with 2 seconds left on the clock. Waiting until the 2-second mark will allow enough time to shoot and, if you should miss, for your teammate to tip it back in. If an opposing player grabs the rebound after a miss, at least he won’t be able to get the ball down the court in time to score.

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.