Last game of the regular season. It's always a funny one. The anticipation is building; the playoffs are so different from the regular season, every possession, every shot, suddenly becomes of vital importance, the experience is so all-encompassing. But for half the teams, the season is over, and mostly there is great disappointment. Some coaches will be fired, players will get evaluated, scouts will be busy filling up their reports for the upcoming draft. Yes, it is a funny time.

For the last game of the regular season, I chose to watch the Houston Rockets. I caught a little of the Pistons/Cavs game but quickly switched out as both were playing their benches. The Rockets have fallen from grace since their record 20+ winning streak earlier in the year but they're in the playoffs. I like many criticized Rick Adelman at the beginning of the season for the perceived inability to get the Rockets to improve offensively. 6 months later, and Rick Adelman's Princeton Offense has really become a staple of the team and it's looking pretty darn good to me (albeit against a lethargic Clippers team). I caught a few sequences from the first half,

Princeton High Offense:

The Princeton Offense can be run out of many different sets. 5-out, 4-out 1-in, low post, high post. The Rockets run their Princeton sets out of a double high-post set, with both O4 and O5 occupying the high-post spots. In this sequence, the pass goes to the high post and O1 then goes to set a screen for T-Mac. The opposite high-post goes to set another screen for T-Mac. T-Mac can either cut to the basket or use the stagger to get the ball up top,

Not shown above, but once T-Mac gets the pass, Mutumbo rolls to the basket and T-Mac finds him for the easy layup.

This is almost a similar set out of the Princeton, except it's both forwards going to set a stagger screen for Battier who comes off the screens and sets and shoots a perfect jumper,


The Rockets still run the PNR, like most NBA teams, but it's probably about 70% Princeton and 30% PNR now (especially more so now that Yao Ming is out). They space the floor really well and get really good quality shots out of it. For a guy like Mutumbo, I think the Princeton fits well with where he is in his career. Mutumbo certainly cannot go 1v1 down low like he used to. The screening/motion options really gives a guy like Mutumbo and Scola a chance to get the ball going to the basket and not have to rely on 1v1. It's really going to be great to watch these 2 teams (Houston and Utah) go at each other for the 2nd straight year.

There are plenty of videos teaching various Princeton concepts like the backdoor cut, etc.. But surprisingly there aren't that many specific videos on implementing the Princeton system. If you are looking for one however, you should check out Joe Scott's DVD building 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. Be sure to check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to discuss your favorite coaching topics.