The Wizards beat the Heat tonight, and though it didn't really have anything to do with the matchup zone they used, I thought I would highlight it here, mainly because I've seen a lot of questions about it recently so I thought I should do a post dedicating some time talking about the matchup zone defense. Watch the video and then you can read my thoughts below.

Wizards sequence:

The matchup is described as a M2M defense that looks like a zone or a zone defense that looks like a M2M. It's help-side and it's zone defense. It's switching on screens, and staying on cutters. In this sequence, it's just a simple closeout on the penetration, rotate, and recover.

Implementing the Matchup Zone:

Implementing a matchup zone is not for the faint of heart. You must define strict rules on what each player should do in any given situation. The good thing about the matchup zone is that it's extremely flexible. So if you want to trap, you can trap. If you want to sag, you can sag. It all depends on what you want to accomplish. Here are some of the key points you need to cover when teaching the matchup zone to your team:

1. What to do on screens. Do you switch all, switch on the perimeter, etc...
2. Cutters, do they follow all cutters, or only baseline, etc...
3. Gaps. Who is responsible for penetration, on baseline, middle, etc...

As for the Wizards, from the clip you can see what some of their basic rules are. They switch everything on the perimeter so that they have constant ball pressure. They don't switch on the forwards down low so that they maintain a good size ratio for the box out. On gap penetration, help side comes from the low middle and they rotate from the top.


Last season, we use a 1-2-2 matchup zone on occasion when our zone defense was getting beat. We were not very good M2M defenders last year (we didn't work hard enough in practice) and we used the matchup zone to kind of fake our way to better help-side team defense.

We don't use it this year because the players we have this year are much better 1-on-1 and team defenders.

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.