Do you smell what's in the air?? Yes, it's starting to feel like basketball season, don't you all agree? Caught the first half of the Boston Celtics preseason game against the Philadelphia 76ers. The first quarter was what a real regular season game would look like, then a lot of guys looking for roster spots got the most play most of the way.

I caught these clips because I thought they illustrated a very important point on offense. In almost any offense, set or motion, your players need to setup their cuts. What do we mean by that? You can just make a straight line normal speed cut to the basket, which will work some of the time. Or, you can use misdirection and change of speed to setup your cut, then cut hard to the basket, which will almost always be more effective at getting open. Take a look,

Give and Go, Setting up your Cuts:

After Paul Pierce makes the post-entry pass into Kevin Garnett in the post, watch how Pierce sets up his cut by first gesturing like he's going to setup a screen and also slows down,

By doing so, his defender relaxes and attempts to half-double Kevin Garnett and turns his back to Pierce. This allows Pierce to get behind the defense and Garnett finds him for the easy score,

Give and Go, Without Setting up Your Cuts:

Now, this is essentially the same play. Ray Allen makes the post entry pass into Keving Garnett. Except this time, he just makes a straight line cut to the basket. Notice how Ray Allen's defender does not turn his back to Ray and stays with him the whole time. If Allen setup his cut by an L-cut and/or change of speed, he probably would've had an easier chance to score,


It is why we as coaches go through all those v-cut, l-cut drills. To teach players how to move without the ball and get open. So, now they need to use them in real game situations. Every play will work that much better if they work on these nuances, it's the little things that make a big difference.

If you're looking for more great info on the art of getting open, take a look at Steve Alford's DVD on Moving Without the Ball. Coach Alford is the head coach at University of New Mexico. To discuss this and many more of your favorite basketball topics, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk with other coaches from around the world.