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Thread: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

  1. #1
    Wasting Light Hicks's Avatar
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    Default With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    When done properly, the pick and roll is still the staple of basketball after all these decades. It's never easy to stop when the right people are performing it, but we can all agree it's essential that the Pacers learn an effective way to at least make the PnR difficult on opponents.

    So given the guys we usually see in the rotation, how would you coach them to defend it?

    I haven't focused on it in a while, but last I recall, we tended to have our big man "show" and then try to haul *** back into the paint to keep the big man from catching a pass off of the PnR.

    With our team, I'd be tempted to have our big stay with his man, and have our small guy play under the pick. It's a bit of Russian roulette to a point, but it's tempting to me for three reasons:

    1) It means the ball is in the paint less often.
    2) It means the ball is moving less often.
    3) It means their point guard is likely to become a score first, pass second player.

    The downside is obvious: If the point guard is hot, you'll get torched.

    But given how badly the Pacers have been, I'd have to say I think there's a decent chance it would be a net gain to defend it the way I'm suggesting. I think it always gives the opponent a puncher's chance, but I'd rather worry about a puncher's chance knocking us out as opposed to just being continuously abused as we are right now.

    What about you?

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    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    Good question. A great pick and roll is very very hard to stop, period. I think from a scheme standpoint, you mix it up. Mix it up based on the opponent, but also from a tactical change of defense, not let the offense get used to it sort of way.

    From a ball defender perstpective:

    Per opposing personnel-if its Tony Parker type, I think you go under the pick because even though Parker can hit the jumper, he's lethal driving to the basket. This doesn't mean you give the guy an open shot for 3 seconds. You still have to fight through the screen and recover to him. More on OUR guys later.

    If it's Mo Williams or Mike Bibby, you go over the top since they'd much rather pull up for a jumper anyway. Again this doesn't mean you play so tight that you've already given up a shoulder so they can get past you and into the help defense. You still have to work to recover.

    From the Picker defender perspective:

    If it's David West, you have to stay in a recover postion, he is money from 17 feet. This is really tough if the ball defender isn't fighting through the pick hard enough because he's basically leaving you in a 2 on 1 situation. Pick and pop is really hard to defend if the pick defender isn't smart and the ball defender isn't fighting.

    If it's Dwight Howard, you fade back all the way into the paint and dare Howard to pop out instead of roll to the basket. Again know your opponent, be in position, and have the mindset to fight through it.

    This takes me to the caliber of defender. The Pacers have smart guys and they have physical athletic guys, alot of the time those qualities aren't in the same player defensively.

    For example Troy knows WHAT to do against a pick and roll but often can't execute it. Solo on the other hand has all of the can do it, but often lacks the know how (I mean on an instinctive level/at game speed level) Jeff used to have both. TJ it depends on the given day, sometimes he can get through a pick, sometimes he doesn't know it's coming soon enough.

    I mean there is a wide variety of Pacer players and really I'm not sure any of them are consistently good at it.

    Brandon has ALL of the foot speed and athleticism, which makes him look great at it, except when he isn't paying attention or is instinctively not reacting correctly to the sudden circumstances.

    Earl Watson seems close to having both.

    So back to the question. I'd say with a team that doesn't have alot of smart AND atlethic players then I'd hedge out or really jump out and take some of the decision making out of it. At least that would be my main bread and butter defense to it.

    I think Obie does change the way they defend it, though. I think I've seen Obie relay to D Jones to change the defensive philosophy in the middle of the game. I think they will sometime push hard baseline and cheat a guy all the way over on the strong low block at times and at times not. My point is I think they do mix it up now.
    Last edited by Speed; 11-23-2009 at 12:23 PM.

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  5. #3

    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    I think the solution is simple even with the players we have and it would only require three basic steps:

    1. Recognize what defense you're implementing - zone or man-D.

    2. Knowing who's on the floor offensively and what the offense intends to do - stay out for the jump shot or roll to the basket.

    3. Committing to the defense no matter what. That means the PG and Wing (or Center, if he is drawn out along the perimeter) must communicate!

    I believe a 3-2 zone defense is more effective against the PnR than any other defensive option because it forces the defenders to rotate to the ballhandler instead of reacting to what the offense does overall. No matter if the ballhandler wants to drive the lane, pass the ball or take the shot, a 3-2 zone will force the player in possession of the ball to react to the defense instead of the defense reacting to what the ballhandler does. The downside here, of course, is greater potential for mismatches either from the Wing (Grd or Fwd) or the post (PF/C).

    Now, what players do the Pacers have who I believe would have success defending against the PnR: Watson, Dahntey and Hansborough. Yep! You read it right. I think Hansborough has the IQ to read the PnR and the quickness to recover. I think Watson and Dahntey communicate better than TJ and Dahntey in defending the PnR. IMO, it takes 3 players to effectively break up the PnR. The Pacers' problem is they've been relying on just 2 players to stop it - PG and a Wing (mostly from the weakside) - when they really should get another Big involved.
    Last edited by NuffSaid; 11-23-2009 at 01:39 PM.

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    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    I don't think I've seen a true zone played effectively for more than a few of possession in a row in the NBA. The rules just aren't condusive for it and there are too many good shooters in the league. Also, zones not played correctly allow for offensive rebounds galore.

    I do agree, it would stop a pick and roll since you can't really and wouldn't run a pick and roll against it, since, well there be no one to pick, if you think about it. An offense against a zone is more about attacking from angles and spacing the floor to find the open guy, you can't really run a pick and roll against, but you can give up a bunch of open shots, if you move the ball well.

    As for Hansbrough, I think I've read something recently that p-n-r is one big thing he hasn't played well against because he's really not been subjected to it. Now I'll agree he seems to have foot speed and a good B ball IQ, so the tools seem to be there, but I'm sure I've seen it said, by Obie maybe that Tyler is poor at doing this right now.
    Last edited by Speed; 11-23-2009 at 02:06 PM.

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    Wasting Light Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    Speed,

    I thought Jim was talking about Tyler in an offensive pick and roll, not defensive?

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    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    Quote Originally Posted by Speed View Post
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    I don't think I've seen a true zone played effectively for more than a few of possession in a row in the NBA. The rules just aren't condusive for it and there are too many good shooters in the league. Also, zones not played correctly allow for offensive rebounds galore.

    I do agree, it would stop a pick and roll since you can't really and wouldn't run a pick and roll against it, since, well there be no one to pick, if you think about it. An offense against a zone is more about attacking from angles and spacing the floor to find the open guy, you can't really run a pick and roll against, but you can give up a bunch of open shots, if you move the ball well.

    As for Hansbrough, I think I've read something recently that p-n-r is one big thing he hasn't played well against because he's really not been subjected to it. Now I'll agree he seems to have foot speed and a good B ball IQ, so the tools seem to be there, but I'm sure I've seen it said, by Obie maybe that Tyler is poor at doing this right now.
    A.J. and Tyler tried to run it a few times against Charlotte, and each time it looked like Tyler had no idea what he was supposed to do. *would usually end up around the three point line and A.J. would give him the "WTF you doing there" look* If it wasn't something he's used to doing a lot, he's probably not used to defending it either. It's probably not something North Carolina does much or did with Tyler much. *as opposed to Price, where..that was the only form of offense at Uconn*

    And if you aren't used to it, it probably takes a while to learn how to do and defend.

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    Running with the Big Boys BillS's Avatar
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    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    As a smart-a$$, I am tempted to say "with razor wire and a machine gun nest"...
    BillS

    "Every time I pitched it was like throwing gasoline on a fire. Pkkw! Pkkw! Pkkw! Pkkw!"
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    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hicks View Post
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    Speed,

    I thought Jim was talking about Tyler in an offensive pick and roll, not defensive?
    Ya, you're right. I misremembered.

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    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sookie View Post
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    A.J. and Tyler tried to run it a few times against Charlotte, and each time it looked like Tyler had no idea what he was supposed to do. *would usually end up around the three point line and A.J. would give him the "WTF you doing there" look* If it wasn't something he's used to doing a lot, he's probably not used to defending it either. It's probably not something North Carolina does much or did with Tyler much. *as opposed to Price, where..that was the only form of offense at Uconn*

    And if you aren't used to it, it probably takes a while to learn how to do and defend.
    Also, AJ was has been touted over and over by the team about how he's excellent at running the pick and roll.

    I didn't see it, but I can picture it happening, funny, well as much as something can be funny getting whooped by a team on a 7 game losing streak.

  14. #10

    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    Quote Originally Posted by Speed View Post
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    Also, AJ was has been touted over and over by the team about how he's excellent at running the pick and roll.

    I didn't see it, but I can picture it happening, funny, well as much as something can be funny getting whooped by a team on a 7 game losing streak.
    Tyler's a smart kid, so he'll figure it out.

    However, I think he'll struggle with it for a while primarily because as energetic as he is, he'll probably struggle with having the patience to run it.

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    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sookie View Post
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    Tyler's a smart kid, so he'll figure it out.

    However, I think he'll struggle with it for a while primarily because as energetic as he is, he'll probably struggle with having the patience to run it.
    I agree, he will. If he doesn't AJ can keep giving that "WTF you doing there" look.

  16. #12

    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    Quote Originally Posted by Speed View Post
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    As for Hansbrough, I think I've read something recently that p-n-r is one big thing he hasn't played well against because he's really not been subjected to it. Now I'll agree he seems to have foot speed and a good B ball IQ, so the tools seem to be there, but I'm sure I've seen it said, by Obie maybe that Tyler is poor at doing this right now.
    Substitute Solo for Hans and I think you've just increased your defensive posture against the PnR. Heck, I'd even go as far as swapping out Hibbert and Hansborough for Foster (C) and Solo (PF) because both provide exactly what the defense would need in the paint should a 3-2 zone be implemented:

    1. interior defense
    2. rebounding
    3. defensive recovery (help-defense on dribble-drives)
    I honestly think that with a full, healthy roster AND if JOB would take a hard, fair and honest look at his roster and truly look at their strengths and weaknesses, he'll start using his depth and stop limited his players ability to contribute based on their overall skillsets.

    Put mildly: Murphy works at PF if the Pacers are able to run in transition. If not, you need Solo out there. But if you need instant energy, Hansborough's your man because he will body you up and make you work for your points.

    So, if the Pacers want to do better at defending the PnR, they need to use zone defense to stop it because I really don't think Hibbert or Foster are quick enough to recover in man-D if neither our PG/SF-PF-C (whichever combination is being exploited at the time) are able to recover out of the double-team fast enough. But it all starts with recognization and communication and that, my friends, is the responsibility of the PG and the Wing players. They have to recognize when the high screen or PnR is coming and make a decision on what to do based on what defense they're running at the time.

  17. #13
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    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    One thing we haven't discussed is just a straight switch. It's the easiest thing to do in the situation from a players point of veiw. Not really something you can hang your hat on in the NBA though, unless you want Hibbert guarding CP3.

    As for Zone, I personally don't like it, I never had, but I think in the NBA it's especially ineffective because of the caliber of players and the rules. It's basically the same reason teams don't full court press often. It doesn't work and the players are too good. If you could do some kind of match up hybrid zone where you still pressure the ball and the league went to the Euro rules, yes, but not as long a you can't defend the paint for more than 3 seconds at a time. I still think a zone let's you get to the offensive boards because it's too hard to find a guy, get a body on them to box them out, instead of just turning a being between the guy and the basket, naturally cuz you are already there. I mean it's not just me, no one plays zone often in the NBA.

    I actually do think the Pacers this year do a pretty good job of protecting the paint within the rules. I like the defense this year individually and as a group. Let me restate that, I liked it during the win streak. They played exceptional as a group and seemed to take pride in it and celebrate each other being good at it. It takes some mental toughness to do it, but I'm hoping they get back to that mindset soon.
    Last edited by Speed; 11-23-2009 at 03:09 PM.

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    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    Quote Originally Posted by Speed View Post
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    One thing we haven't discussed is just a straight switch. It's the easiest thing to do in the situation from a players point of veiw. Not really something you can hang your hat on in the NBA though, unless you want Hibbert guarding CP3.
    This is an option if you're OK with the bigs hitting small, quick guards with hard hacks and blocking fouls on the outside when they drive to potentially get in their head and make the lane less appetizing.

    I think using the big to force the guard out and then getting back to his man is the best option. Generally Roy is going to be trolling the paint, so you 1) force the guard to either keep it and reset the play or make an awkward pass (if you play it right) and 2) force the bigs to either take it to the hoop or make the 15 footer. Depending on who it is, results will vary.

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    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    I think the two main goals of our defense this year are somewhat at odds when it comes to pick and roll defense. It seems like we're trying to do two things with our defense: 1. Apply pressure and create turnovers/deflections. 2. Keep the ball out of the paint. When he have a big man show or hedge to create pressure on the ball handler, we're inviting the opposing big to waltz to the rim and score. That's pretty much what's been happening this season.

    At this point, I'd really like to see us going under picks and inviting jump shots.

    Hicks lists 3 good reasons to defend it this way. I'll add one more: You're a lot less likely to pick up a foul on a jumpshooting PG than you are against a driving big. This is helpful in a couple of ways. First, FT differential has been problematic for this team since O'Brien has been here. Second, so far this season Roy has been our most effective big man by a very wide margin. We need to work to maximize his minutes which means that we need to stop putting him in positions where his only defensive opportunities are going to lead to fouling.
    "A man with no belly has no appetite for life."

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  21. #16

    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    1. I think there's a fair number of teams that defend the pick'n'roll worse than the Pacers.

    2. I don't believe a team can be successful at this level defending the pick'n'roll without adjusting their strategy to the opponents (to a certain extent).

    3. If I was forced to pick a single way of defending the ballscreen, going under would very probably be the last of my options. It's a good way of defending a few NBA guards - Rondo, Sessions, Lawson, maybe even Conley - but it's too risky to employ it as a default strategy. Jennings scored 55 points in 3 quarters due to the Warriors insistence on going under Bogut's screen. There are too many games in a season that a team would lose by going under in every ballscreen, every game, I think.

    4. I agree that zones can only be employed as as successful defensive strategy for very limited stretches in the NBA. Even if you dedicate all your practice time to perfect a couple of zone defences, you'd still be very vulnerable on the perimeter or inside, depending on the zone (especially as long as the 3 defensive seconds rule exist - and very probably even if it was repealed). I recall George Karl saying something like "my counter-zone offence is to put my best 3 shooters on the floor and wait for them to make a couple of triples in a row". More often than not, it works.

    5. Even though I favour some adjustments, I also think it's counter-productive to over-adjust and have 4 or 5 ways of defending the ball-screen. I remember the Bucks with Larry K. (or Stotts?) that would try to trap in the wing above the FT line, show up in the high p'n'r, go under against some opponents, corral when the screener isn't stationary.. it ended up being a mess. Also the Blazers end up switching more than they'd like, I think, because each of their bigs defends the ballscreen differently. A modicum of stability is needed.

    5. Personally, I'm a strong proponent of defending the pick'n'roll by hedging hard and recovering (both the ball-handler and the screener defenders recovering to their men, with someone else briefly corralling the screener, I don't like unnecessary rotations). I think that's the default system used by the most successful defensive teams in the NBA. Of course it demands quickness, effort and synchronization from everybody (and not only those guarding the ball-handler and the screener), but if you're doing it well is, in my mind, the best way to minimize the vulnerabilities that the pick'n'roll creates. I prefer to see a team defending the pick'n'roll this way without doing it too well than doing very well trapping, going under or switching. Analysing the Pacers specifically: TJ Ford ought to do better than he's been doing, the rest of the guards are okay, I think; Foster used to be a very good pick'n'roll defender, age and injuries may have slowed him down, I don't know; Hibbert is improving; Murphy is too slow and passive; Hansbrough is too soon to tell; Solomon Jones is hopefully a similar situation, as right now he lacks the timing and awareness.

    ETA: Speed mentions the straight switch - in a dream world, you'd have a roster with players able to defend 1 to 5 and that'd be the best way to defend the ball-screen. If I had a roster of prime Magic, Pippen, Hayes, Garnett and Rodman, etc, I'd certainly do it.
    Last edited by cordobes; 11-23-2009 at 05:11 PM.

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    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    I guess the real question is this: How do other teams with relatively unathletic big men defend the pick and roll successfully?

    I don't know the answer to that one.
    "A man with no belly has no appetite for life."

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  23. #18

    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    In defending the screen/roll, you have to have variety in your defensive plan, so you need to be able do to multiple things depending on the situation and the personnel involved, area of the floor, time/score, etc etc.

    Having said that, each team needs to have one primary way they hang their hat on in defending this on a nightly basis, then they can adjust accordingly if needed.

    I personally believe the best way to defend the screen/roll is to trap it hard, then rotate behind it and recover. This gives you the best chance to blow it up, and if you rotate correctly and quickly it can make the offense need to make 2 passes to find the open guy. Against teams who run screen/roll up against the shot clock, this can be an asset, as it can make them take a rushed shot.

    I'd trap the screen/roll almost every time, and prepare and adjust accordingly off that.

    Tbird

  24. #19

    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    Tbird,

    Trapping (or doubling) the PnR requires 3-players who can read and react to it - your PG, Fwd (depending on which side the screen comes from - weak or strong side) and your Center. If all three can read/react to it quickly, then I'm 100% for it. The reason I'm not high on the Pacers using that strategy is because I'm not convinced we have players at all three (or four) positions (again, depending on where the PnR comes from) who can do that consistently. Foster and Granger I'm sure can do it. I think Watson can as well. I know Dahntey can. Problem is I don't think Dahntey was part of the plan as far as him being a starter is concerned. I think Bird/Morray saw him coming in as a BU/SF, which is fine. I just don't think they anticipated him having an offensive game. But I digress...

    For the purpose of this thread, I'd like to see Granger, Watson, Foster, Solo and Dunleavy (or Dahntey) on the floor because IMO they represent the best we have at reading and reacting to the PnR. But I doubt it will happen.

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    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    Machete

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    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    I think it depends on who your big guy is. If it is Roy you have to play it completely different than if it is a healthy Jeff Foster. Jeff you can play it about anyway you choose to best suit the opponent, but with Roy you have very few chooses and that is why I love quick, mobile, atghletic big guys. When seemingly other Pacers fans want a big burly center, I never want that.

    I'm not going to repeat what is here in this thread, but I do know the Pick and roll is the most important aspect of your team defense, so I hope the pacers spent about 75% of their training camp on it

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    Default Re: With this roster, how would you defend the pick and roll?

    Quote Originally Posted by BillS View Post
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    As a smart-a$$, I am tempted to say "with razor wire and a machine gun nest"...
    Quote Originally Posted by Cherokee View Post
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    Machete
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