There is a great article on Basktbawful that documents one of the reasons why the Mavs aren't as good as we all think they are but are improving in one key area, ball movement. I tend to agree with him in that the number of total assists is a key statistic showing the effectiveness and efficiency of your offense. Now, we're speaking half-court offense specifically, because assists can distort the reality, we really need to observe and track half-court efficiency. You want to track individual half-court possessions. Half-court offense must be patient. I took this live clip from the Mavs/Blazers game showing great ball movement which Basketbawful has observed the Mavs to be somewhat improved in this season. Watch the video and read my thoughts below,

Sideline to Sideline:

You know the movie Hoosiers, when Gene Hackman tells his team, "3 passes before a shot." I first watched that movie many years ago when it first came out, and as a young kid, I didn't know why or what he meant by that. Why would you want 3 passes before you shoot?? The reason why is because by going sideline to sideline, you force the defense to work to cover you. By doing so, they will eventually break down. If you have 4 guys standing around watching 1 guy try to go 1-on-1, that will most certainly result in a 1-on-5 situation, or a long perimeter shot.

OK, so what are we talking about when we talk about sideline to sideline? Take a look at this sequence,

So O3 is Josh Howard. He moves from the left to the right coming off the stack screen by Dirk Nowitzki and Diop. Now X4 switches to cover Howard. O1, Devin Harris pass fakes to Howard who isn't open so he doesn't pass him the ball.

In the next sequence, O4, Dirk curls around O5, Diop, briefly looks for the ball, then clears to the weak side wing. Devin passes the ball to O2, Jason Terry at the top left of the key.

After Dirk clears to the other wing, Diop will set a flex screen for Howard to goes back to the left corner off of Diop's screen, X4 trails.

Dirk sets a pick on X4 that allows Jason to reverses the ball to Howard in the corner. Dirk then rolls off the screen towards the basket.

Howard bounce passes to Dirk who finishes the play with the emphatic dunk.


I'm always telling my team to be patient. In fact, I probably say those two words, "Be patient", about 50 times in a game. Half-court offense is deliberate. You must move the ball and look for the opportunity to attack. Against teams that play good defense, you have to make them defend you baseline to baseline and sideline to sideline, use the whole court.

The analogy in football is that you must stretch the field. You must throw the deep ball, and run the sweep play every so often to force the defense to defend you deep and from sideline to sideline. If you don't, they will put 8 or more in the box and kill your run game. The same can be said in basketball. If you don't move the ball, the defense will sit back and wait before swarming you.

The most patient offense that I know is the Princeton 5-out offense. It emphasizes passing and cutting. It's deliberate and takes a lot of discipline to play. For a great video that breaks this great offense down, check out Joe Scott's DVD on the Fundamental building Blocks of the Princeton Offense. Coach Scott is the current head coach at Denver and used to be the head coach at Air Force and Princeton, both 5-out teams. Talk about this and many other basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball forum.