I watched most of the second half tonight between the Mavs and the Bucks, and it was a great game through and through. I thought the key to the win for the Bucks was their use of a matchup zone. First they used a 2-3 matchup, and when the Mavs hit a couple of late 3-pointers (Jason Terry was deadly tonight), they went to a 3-2 matchup and the Mavs started to miss. Watch the video and then you can read my thoughts below.

3-2 Matchup zone

With the matchup zone, it's critical to know your assignments because of all the switching. I'm going to start diagramming at the point where the ball has been reversed to the corner. At this point, X1's man is actually across the court so he shifts over to cover. That leaves X4, Yi Jianli to zone cover O4, Dirk Nowitzki.

O2 does a basket cut once O4 gets the ball back up top. X2 follows O2 into the lane. With X3 rotating to cover O1, Jason Terry, in the corner and X1 covering Devin Harris, the 3-2 zone is maintained.

Finally, Dirk drives middle and Yi stops him at the free-throw line. X1 comes to help and Dirk passes to O2, Devin Harris who takes the 3-pointer. He actually gets a pretty good shot off and probably should've made that shot, but with the shot clock running out, it was a little rushed.

I think overall, the matchup did very well for the Bucks. It forced the Mavs to use up the clock and take some hurried shots. With a 24 second shot clock, I think the matchup zone does a good job of forcing teams to use up all the clock and thus take a rushed shot. In a high school game, I'm not sure how well it would do given that in some states there is no shot clock so the offense could theoretically hold the ball forever.

The matchup zone is not an easy defense to implement. Assignments are key here and you must spend a lot of time going on air to go through all the permutations of cutters, gap responsibility on penetration and any M2M switches.

For more video info, take a look at Paul Hewitt's DVD on his 3-2 point zone defense. Coach Hewitt is the head coach at Georgia Tech. Talk about your favorite basketball coaching topics at the X's and O's Basketball forum.