I watched most of this game late in the night here on the west coast, Warriors hosting the Pistons. The Warriors led for most of the game and for the most part had been doing a great job in beating the Pistons 1-2-2 matchup zone in the second half before letting Rasheed Wallace get hot late in the game. In any case, I highlighted 2 plays which I thought were good in demonstrating zone offense principles. Watch the video and then you can read my thoughts below.

The first clip is just good ball movement with Baron Davis cutting from the high post through the lane and the easy dunk. In the second clip, I wanted to illustrate the point that offensive rebounding is key to beating zones because the defense does not have specific block out responsibilities.

High Post Cut:

Just a wonderful sequence. You put your best player, even if that's one of your shortest in Baron Davis, at the high-post. The soft spot in the 1-2-2 zone.

So the Warriors basically just used a 2-1-2 formation all night and just reversed the ball looking for open shots. They had Baron Davis at the high-post most of the game. What happens here is O5 cuts to the ball-side block, this distracts X5 for a split second making him move slightly to cover. O2 does a pass-fake, again a key to beating zones, which Chauncey Billups bites on allowing Baron Davis who is playing behind the defense to basket cut and O2, Matt Barnes, finds Baron for the alley-oop dunk.

Offensive Rebounding to beat the zone:

The next clip is one to show that offensive rebounding is key to beating a zone. You'll see the 2 Pistons defenders in the vicinity of the rebound, but because Andris Biedrins is working behind the defense, he can easily slide in for inside position on the rebound. Kelenna Azubuike does a great job of basket cutting and Biedrins finds him for the easy layup to finish.

We play a 2-3 zone as one of our defenses and rebounding is always a concern. We usually give up one more offensive rebound for every 5 shots when we're in our zone. It's frustrating, but we use the zone to slow down the game.


It's interesting that the Pistons would switch to their zone given that the Warriors can shoot the 3-pointer. But as we've seen, it's more than just outside shooting that you need to really beat the zone. I like what Bobby Hurley says, when the ball goes into the high-post, everything for the zone breaks down, I posted earlier with Vince Carter penetrating and getting into that high post area.

For a great breakdown of zone offense, take a look at Coach Mike Krzyzewski's Zone Offense DVD, he does a great job explaining zone offense fundamentals in a way that can be applied to any team. As usual, there are plenty of notes on zone offense so check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to download them.