Watched some recorded stuff and this one caught my eye. It was the game between the Phoenix Suns and the Orlando Magic the other night. Game was back and forth most of the way, both teams playing through injuries (Suns without Shaq, Magic without Howard).

The game came down to the last few sequences with both teams trading baskets. Hedo Turkoglu hit a big shot, and then the Suns had the ball with 9 seconds left down by 1 point. They ran this nifty backscreen that caught the Magic on the switch and resulted in an open layup, and the game winner,

Sideline Inbounds Backpick:

Nothing too wild, but a nice play nonetheless. They run a stack on the ball side elbow for the SLOB. O5 (Stoudamire) pops out to receive the pass, and O1 (Nash) clears out to receive the inbounds as well. The pass is intended to go to O5, because he's tall and you want to inbounds the ball safely without it getting stolen so that's where O3 (Hill) goes first,

Then O1 goes to set a backpick for O3. O3 rubs off the screen and cuts to the basket. O5 finds him for the easy layup. X4 tries to help but is late,

The reason why this play works is because X1 (Nelson) and X3 (Turkoglu) get mixed up defensively. Nelson thinks Turkoglu is going to fight thru the screen, while Turkoglus assumes Nelson will switch. My guess is that Coach Stan Van Gundy wanted the switch so Nelson got mixed up. Also, it could just be that Nelson got caught watching the ball instead of focusing on his defensive responsibilities,


When you are in those timeouts at end of games. Make sure you know your defensive assignments. Anticipate what the other team will do, and make sure your players know what they're suppose to do. I think this play worked more because of the defensive breakdown more than anything special the Suns did. It was a smart play, but it was just not well defended.

All of the talk in the East is about the Celtics and Cavs. The Magic are a good team, and with Howard they are dominant. I wouldn't count the Magic out come June. As for the Suns, I think they are improving defensively. I watched a lot of good help defense and rotations, forcing penetration to help, etc... I think they still need to improve 1v1 on the perimeter though. I've read a lot about how poor their offense has been so far, but I disagree, I think they're still very offensively efficient. Jason Richardson will give them more chances on the fast break because of his athleticism, so I like that move. I think the Suns still make the playoffs, and if they're defense holds up, they could still be dangerous in the playoffs.

For a brand new video from a great coach, check out Bob McKillop's new DVD on Winning Special Situations including BLOB and SLOB. Coach McKillop is the head coach of Davidson College. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk about this and your favorite basketball topics.