I watched most of this game tonight. It was close throughout and you knew it would come down to the last play of the game which it did, I'm talking about the Bulls vs. Pistons. In this sequence, you'll see a great defensive play by Luol Deng to thwart the designed game-tying 3-pointer for Chauncey Billups. Watch the video and then you can read my thoughts below.

Pistons Inbound:

I actually like the inbounds play by the Pistons here. It's a designed play to get the 3-pointer. It's sound for a couple of reasons. All 3 of Hamilton, Prince and Billups can hit that shot, so it's a true triple threat. It's a handoff play which adds a dimension of uncertainty.

So, what's happening is Wallace and Maxwell set a stagger screen for Hamilton. At the same time Prince jumps out to catch the inbounds from Billups just outside of the 3-point line. Hamilton drags the 3-point line and Prince fakes the handoff to him. Hamilton then goes to set a pick for Billups who comes off the screen and head straight to the top of the key where Prince dumps it off to him.

Bulls Defense:

Straight M2M but they are switching obviously as this is the end of the game. Luol Deng is defending Tayshaun Prince, I highlighted him because he is the key man here.

What's great is once the ball goes in. Everything goes according to plan for the Pistons. The pick set by Hamilton is great and Billups cuts off of it to what looks like an open spot for the game-tying 3-pointer. Except Luol Deng steps out to close out on the switch and forces Billups to pass to Hamilton who shoots a shot that actually almost goes in.

What I love about this is the way Deng jumps back to give a little space. This allows him to see the play develop as opposed to being right behind Prince and blind to who has the ball. Now, if Deng jumps out to close out on Billups to early, say if he guesses the play, if Prince sees that, all he has to do is pivot and he'll likely have an open 3-pointer. I think Deng waits just long enough so that he can switch and closeout on Billups.


I have no doubt in my mind that if Billups takes the open shot as designed, he nails it and sends it to OT. Just before this play, the Bulls had a great defensive stand to prevent Wallace from scoring the game-tying score. The Bulls get their first win of the year, and its good old defense that seals the victory. Make sure you have your end of game strategy all sorted out in your head before the season starts.

A great DVD that breaks down the man-to-man fundamentals is Geno Auriemma's 8 Essential Defensive Drills DVD. Coach Auriemma is the head coach of multiple national championship winning lady Huskies of UConn. Head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to discuss all of your hoops.