Another solid day of NBA playoff action. Since I hadn't posted anything related to the West 1/8 matchup, I thought I would do so tonight as the Lakers and Nuggets went at each other today.

The Lakers have really breezed through the first 3 games. We all know that the Nuggets don't play defense consistently and that has proven to be the case so far in the playoffs as well. As long as the Lakers could limit the Nuggets dribble-drive offense, and Carmelo isolations, they would win easily. Against those Carmelo isolations, they run what Mike (the Czar) Fratello calls "a defensive overload", take a look,

Tilting the Defense:

I'll be honest, before tonight, I didn't know what defensive overload (or tilting according to the Czar) meant. I am familiar with offensive overload, especially against zone defenses, but the concept of overloading on defense is somewhat unfamiliar to me. But after I thought about it some more, it's really just a combo or junk style of defense.

From their basic M2M, you'll see Lamar Odom leave his man to the empty ball-side low block to prevent Melo from driving 1v1,

After the rest of the defenders have rotated to cover the rest of the players in basically a 3-man zone, it looks like this,

The more I thought about it, this idea of tilting really is like a triangle and 2 defense with 2 defenders guarding the ball. So, instead of guarding the 2 best players, you take 2 defenders to guard the other team's best player, 1 on the ball, and 1 in primary help-side, the other 3 players are in a triangle zone,

Another major difference here between a traditional triangle and 2 as well is that they don't move into formation until the pass has been made and the 1v1 ISO has been established. So, the Lakers start in M2M, and "tilt" the defense once the ISO has been set.

This defensive formation is not without it's flaws. As you can see from the stills above, there are some wide open guys on the weak side. Also, playing Iverson soft you'd think would normally be suicide. But on this night anyways, the Nuggets couldn't hit anything if they're life depended on it and everytime they tried driving, there were defenders everywhere.


Like many pundits have commented, I've really been surprised at the lack of urgency in both the players and coaches of the Nuggets. We know they play lazy defense, some or most of the time. But they play as if there's nothing in it for them. I don't know everything behind the scenes, but coach George Karl's mosh pit routine before game 1, though seemingly harmless, didn't help keep the players focused in my opinion. After all, if I was a player and saw that, I would think that it's OK to mess around because Coach is doing it. And now they're down 3-0 and most likely "goin' fishin'" as Kenny the Jet would say.

I don't think there's any video out there teaching this overload concept (unless the Czar or Phil Jackson are working on one), but if you're interested in the junk stuff, you might want to look at Homer Drew's DVD on the Box and 1 defense. As always, don't forget to check out the the X's and O's of Basketball forum to get all your hoops fill.