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Playing offense a totally different way: 2 guard fronts with no real point guard

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  • Playing offense a totally different way: 2 guard fronts with no real point guard

    Lets talk some offensive team strategy tonight, and compare the standard 1 point guard, 2 wing, 2 post players offensive philosophy vs the 2 guard front.

    When you are committed to playing a true one guard front, you are forced to play a true ballhandler, a traditional point guard, at the front of your offense. Its that guards job to set the offense and "quarterback your team". Most teams set their teams up that way, because it allows a blending of roles in the other 4 spots much easier, and doesnt require as much imagination with your roster. Roles are easier to define when you set up your offense this way.

    My guess is, that Donnie Walsh is a firm believer in playing offense this way. I say that because his entire tenure has been set up this way. he has had Vern Fleming, Michael Williams, Travis Best, Mark Jackson, and Jamal Tinsley. He has also hired coaches (except for Jack Ramsey) who shared this philosophy.....Larry Brown, Larry Bird, and Rick Carlisle among the most committed to it as I see it. There is nothing wrong with this thinking, as most teams try and play this way too.

    However, there is another way to play, both in personnel and in strategy and alignment, and thats playing a 2 guard front. Now, Im not just talking playing 2 point guard at the same time and using one of them off the ball (like we use Sarunas, or like we used AJ sometimes in the past), Im talking about truly sharing the ballhandling responsibilities, and lining one guard at the right top, and the other parallel or above him on the opposite side of the floor.

    This is a major characteristic of the Phil Jackson/Tex Winter triple post offense (it somehow got called the triangle somewhere along the line, but Tex called it the triple post long before then.) Thats playing 2 guard out top, usually 2 wings, and 1 post player playing in the center of the floor. This version or method of playing was much more popular in the bygone era of basketball, in the 60's and earlier. Tonight I wanted to make the suggestion that we need to look, starting next season probably at the earliest, of playing a 2 guard front, and suggest a few ways we can even do it sooner than that if we chose.

    There are a million reasons why i think this adjustment needs to be made not just by the Pacers but my many more teams in the NBA, but Ill try and narrow it down to just a few.

    1. It allows you to initiate your offense easier and faster, because the 1st pass in the halfcourt is easier and shorter. In a traditional set up, you need a really good guard up top to read the defense and take the ball to the side the play is supposed to go to. Its a tough job personnel wise to find a guy who can do that successfully and consistently, and not be a liability in other areas of the game. With a 2 guard front plays can be ran from either side, and in a more flexible free flowing manner.

    2. It allows you to play your best players, because you dont need the true "point guard" in the game. You also can play players in a 2 guard front system that maybe you couldnt playing the other way, at least not as much or with as much responsibility.

    With our team for instance, Sarunas nor Daniels really can handle the ball up front by themselves and quarterback a team against pressure defense. However, without the decision making part of the job on their backs (you initiate offense only on the side you are on, you dont need to choose), then they both could play in the backcourt playing in this way. The 2 guard front also lets guys who normally dont fit the size requirements of their skill set (think BJ Armstrong and Steve Kerr) play minutes and have a role.

    3. It allows you to space the floor better, and give your post players more room to manuever. By having 4 perimeter players on the floor spaced out, you can space the floor and make the defense struggle to double team your post guys. For an example from recent past, think The Kobe/Shaq Lakers, and think about the Rockets championship teams.

    4. It lets you move the ball from side to side easier. This is why Dr Jack believed in it so much....he wanted the ball swung and reversed, making the defense shift. Its easier to swing the ball because your passing angles are better, and you have shorter passes. It also sets you up for cutters from one side to the other, and for driving lanes created by ball movement. With our team, this probably sets up the skills of a slasher like Marquis or Marshall, and allows you to play more backcourt combinations (such as using Granger at the "2", my personal desire to go big with our lineup is well documented).

    For in the future, I think the Pacers really need to look at a total revamp in how they play offense, because finding a good enough point guard is such a difficult thing to do, and they way we play a great pg is almost required to have any success.

    If you dont like the "triple post" offensive scheme, or the regimented and patterns that it uses, thats ok, I understand. Im not necessarily suggesting that though, but I do think there is a way we can play this 2 guard front this year and get better offensively. And yes, I think we can do it and still play Foster, if we use 2 guards out front, use Foster as a screener along the baseline and in the post areas for JO and Harrington.

    Regardless of how you do it, clearly I think the internationalization of basketball is swinging us back toward a revival of the 2 guard front. I think the true "point guard" will 15-20 years fron now will be an afterthought, as hybrid guards take over the sport. If we can recognize this and get ahead of the curve, I think we can beat some other franchises to the punch.

    Id love to hear if many of you actually like the 1 guard, 2 wing, 2 post players way to play offense, or if how many of you (I know Jay does) likes the idea of a more retro "2 guard" offensive alignment. Nobody is right or wrong, its just a matter of preference.

    Just my opinion, as always.

    tbird

  • #2
    Re: Playing offense a totally different way: 2 guard fronts with no real point guard

    4-out, baby!!

    Tbird, I wish I had more time to read your posts on a regular basis, its been a very busy fall/winter for me and I think the next couple months are going to be even busier.


    The biggest problem with this isn't the offense (because the infatuation with PG, 2 wing, 2 post lineup in the NBA coincides with the increased emphasis on "defense"), its that you may be committed to a lineup that matces up poorly on defense.
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Playing offense a totally different way: 2 guard fronts with no real point guard

      I appreciate the insights, but as a (still) relative newbie for X's and O's, I'm going to make a request. Now if you can't do this I totally understand because it's asking a lot, but could you provide examples (visual examples) of the things you are describing? As a visual learner that would help me out tremendously in envisioning your suggestions for the team. Thanks for taking the time.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Playing offense a totally different way: 2 guard fronts with no real point guard

        Originally posted by thunderbird1245 View Post

        Id love to hear if many of you actually like the 1 guard, 2 wing, 2 post players way to play offense, or if how many of you (I know Jay does) likes the idea of a more retro "2 guard" offensive alignment. Nobody is right or wrong, its just a matter of preference.

        Just my opinion, as always.

        tbird
        I love to read your posts but I struggle to understand them because I don't always know he nomenclature. (We need diagrams on here)

        That said, I'm not smart enough to have a preference, but I do have a question. Why has the 1 point guard system become so popular if it's harder to find a 1 guard? Is the NBA just outgrowing it?

        EDIT; Hicks and I with the same request, how about that!

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Playing offense a totally different way: 2 guard fronts with no real point guard

          Fifteen years ago, there was a surplus of NBA-caliber PGs. Now, there's a shortage. Its cyclical.

          I agree we need some way to do graphics on threads like this.
          Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
          Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
          Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
          Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
          And life itself, rushing over me
          Life itself, the wind in black elms,
          Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Playing offense a totally different way: 2 guard fronts with no real point guard

            Originally posted by Hicks View Post
            I appreciate the insights, but as a (still) relative newbie for X's and O's, I'm going to make a request. Now if you can't do this I totally understand because it's asking a lot, but could you provide examples (visual examples) of the things you are describing? As a visual learner that would help me out tremendously in envisioning your suggestions for the team. Thanks for taking the time.
            Well, Im not computer savvy enough to do it, but I bet someone on this board probably is. I wish Pacer digest had a "telestrator" option on it somehow.

            Let me try and explain it by words, and hopefully someone will follow up with this visually and make it make sense.

            A 1 guard front positions a player out front with the basketball at the top, generally bringing the ball down the floor. He then has to choose to take "action" to either the right or left, and make the first pass either to a player on the right wing or left wing. Our inablility defensively to pressure this player is my biggest pet peeve about our team currently by far, but thats another thread. This gives you a player at the top center (Tinsley), and 2 wing players. Generally speaking, the remaining 2 players when you play this way are on each respective block so you can remain balanced. Sometimes however they might have one on the low block and one at the high post, creating a 1-3-1 alignment instead.

            A 2 guard front gives you a player on the right top, left top, and generally gives you a player on the right wing and left wing. (This is what jay means by playing "4 out"). Your remaining one player plays somewhere in the paint.

            Now, for this particular group of players, Id use a 2 guard front alot in order to play without Tinsley and to play bigger. Id use Foster/Baston as a kind of "rover" on offense, who's job would be primarily to set screens for my interior players, like JO, Harrington, and others, and to step out and set "flare screens" for the 2 players based up top.

            If someone smart can draw that somehow someway, Ill be happy to try and explain further.




            As far as why teams dont do this more often, instead of trying to pigeonhole a mediocre player into a traditional point guard role, I cant answer that. In some cases its just personal preference, in others they actually have a good point guard that can handle it traditionally speaking (not many though), and in some cases its just poor coaching in my opinion, and a lack of imagination.

            JMO

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Playing offense a totally different way: 2 guard fronts with no real point guard

              I think I can see what your getting at and it sounds like you may be right in that 1's are getting harder to come by these days. Ever wonder if Sarunus had JT's handles what we might see When JT and Sarunus played together early last season (2005), not sure what game it was, but the defense had a difficult time with all the ball movement those two created being on the floor at the same time. It may have been one of those (it worked for a short while things). Then JT went down with some ailment and I have'nt seen it since

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Playing offense a totally different way: 2 guard fronts with no real point guard

                At the beginning of the season we used it sometimes too, and in those games it was a combo of Tinsley/Sarunas or DA/Sarunas who thrived in that role.

                I hope we get back to it more often.
                Maceo Baston's #1 fan on Pacers Digest!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Playing offense a totally different way: 2 guard fronts with no real point guard

                  T'Bird. I mentioned awhile back (when we were trying to figure out the playbook) about pulling up Visio Tech to make some quick JPG/GIFs of diagrams. I've just been too busy to do it.

                  I agree that it helps a ton.



                  A 2 guard front gives you a player on the right top, left top, and generally gives you a player on the right wing and left wing. (This is what jay means by playing "4 out"). Your remaining one player plays somewhere in the paint.
                  As for the topic, RC has done a lot of these 2 guard sets this year rather than a single PG, and when they run that the offense is totally different (Saras/DA is the most common combo, but even JT has been used this way).

                  Often it doesn't feature JO out there either, mostly because with him the plays get more vertical (length of court) than horizontal (side to side). For example, JO comes out to the elbow PnR and creates space for the ball to go toward the rim, ball returns to him for the jumper. Or that thumb screen play they run off the low block. That's a single side play (not mirrored on the other side) and has very little ball movement from side to side like the "4 out" sets do (with a big crossing the lane on ball rotation).

                  I think a big problem right now is Rick trying to find a way to get some of the other players into comfortable spots on offense. They aren't all all-stars of course, but it's a little like that situation. Not so much "we all need touches", but rather that from the coaching view you want to have multiple threats and get all the talent involved.

                  But if some players are put into uncomortable scoring positions (for them) during plays then they aren't really a threat. IMO it's pretty freaking tricky to create effective plays that put every player on the court into his comfort zone at the same time or off the same movement.

                  If Al was just Reggie than having him roam the 3 line for the JO kick-out would be fine, but trying to find ways for both of them to work the low post is trickier, mostly because Al isn't big enough to deal with the true big help that would release off of JO if JO dropped down into the lane.

                  In that way Brad Miller was a much better pairing with JO on the frontline, and even Foster is currently. Just consider the 2 passes to Jeff from JO inside for the dunk and layup. Al is fine posting with a decent size pairing, but otherwise he doesn't really play big inside.

                  Anyway, that's drifting way off topic.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Playing offense a totally different way: 2 guard fronts with no real point guard

                    great post as usual, tbird. a couple of thoughts:

                    are there examples of current nba teams which play more of a 2 guard front? phil jackson's lakers maybe? how about the bulls, since they have so many small guards? and how do other teams match up to them?

                    how does tinsley fit in a 2 guard front? i do understand from your post that the whole idea of doing a 2-guard front is to reduce the reliance on tinsley (or another "true pg", since they are so rare now). but if we're keeping tinsley, shouldn't we try to take advantage of his abilities by playing one guard front?

                    lastly, how much of a learning curve is this? the example you cited (the "triangle") is notoriously difficult to learn. is that typical for 2 guard fronts?

                    jay, why does going with this lineup mean a mismatch on defense? it seems to me that it is more flexible in allowing you to play defenders who are not necessarily good pg's - in our team, maybe playing marquis and orien together in the backcourt.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Playing offense a totally different way: 2 guard fronts with no real point guard

                      I think this is what he's talking about.
                      Correct me if I'm wrong.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Playing offense a totally different way: 2 guard fronts with no real point guard

                        Originally posted by Cherokee View Post
                        I think this is what he's talking about.


                        Correct me if I'm wrong.
                        I think that your diagram is fairly accurate, in a "nonaggressive" initial configuration.

                        Oftentimes the center man plays low and comes out to meet a potential pass from whichever guard has the ball. Or, alternatively, the wing man on the side of the court as the guard controlling the ball comes out for the pass. Simultaneously, as the guard with the ball makes a move towards a wingman for a potential pass, the other guard positions himself in a supporting position to the guard with the ball, so that a quick reversal of the floor can be made.

                        If the wingman receives the ball, if the center is playing low, he oftentimes sets a screen for the other wingman to come through the lane or screens for the guard that made the initial pass.

                        If the center had been playing high when the wingman received the ball, he might roll to the basket for the pass, creating space at the high post for the other wingman or one of the guards to get a 10-15 foot shot.

                        What I've always liked aboute the 2-guard offense is that it lends itself much better to a motion game in the half-court. It is all about screening to create an opportunity for a teammate or vacating space to create open space for a teammate to receive a pass while "on the move".

                        This is exactly how all of us oldtimers learned how to play basketball back in the 50s and 60s starting out even in grade school. As we got older, our ability to recognize opportunities and the methods we used to screen and create space became more sophisticated.

                        This way of playing does enable using a pair of guards that each might have weaker ball-handling skills than typical PG. I also believe it also makes opposing backcourt defenses work harder becauase the offense can be initiated by either guard on either side of the floor at any time, and the offense also typically contains more movement.

                        I happen to agree with Thunderbird regarding his assessment of one of our most glaring weaknesses... our inability to stop the opponent at the point of attack... i.e., our inability to play an opposing PG straight up and prevent dribble penetration or to prevent him from quickly initiating his offense.

                        The two-guard offense would be a great way of improving the defensive abilities of our backcourt in the event that we cannot acquire a decent PG that is also a capable defender. Examples would be Marquis and DA, Marquis and Danny or Danny and DA. [I really would have appreciated Marquis and AJ, but that's a different story since we traded the wrong PG.]

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Playing offense a totally different way: 2 guard fronts with no real point guard

                          Yeah, the drawing is very basic. We used to drop the center about halfway down the lane, stack one of the wings, then bring the other wing around the double screen. There's about a million things you can do with it. We also used to drop into a 1-4 offense that tended to drive some teams nuts. Our guards were so bad that whoever got the ball first shot it in order to prevent a turnover!

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                          • #14
                            Re: Playing offense a totally different way: 2 guard fronts with no real point guard

                            I just wanted to thank T-Bird as well as those that contributed to these type threads.

                            Your thoughts really help some of us understand the game better.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Playing offense a totally different way: 2 guard fronts with no real point guard

                              I prefer the standard configuration, as I consider dominating the post to be one of our team strengths. I do like the idea of 2 reliable guys who can create, dribble and bring the ball up the floor. Although I like Danny, I don't think he's ideal for that role at the 2. I have appreciated Jackson's play, but I don't know that he's suited for that role either. (Some would say he's a better 3 than a 2)

                              I'm intrigued with the idea that we could get a primary distributor like Andre Miller, or even Tinsley on his better nights.

                              Perhaps we could have a "line change", where the second team off the bench played this sort of set. (With Saras and Armstrong/Greene running the show)

                              If our strength as a team was a good compliment of versatile guards and a physically dominant/ smart 5, I would be more in favor of this sort of approach.

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