From yesterday, the epic Kobe vs Lebron battle, the Lakers against the Cavaliers in Cleveland. I was disappointed by the Cavs, I thought they would play with more emotion but it turned out the Lakers were the hungrier team. Kobe made some unbelievable plays, and he apparently had the flu to boot. And despite all that, the Cavs were just a few plays from tying and winning the game.

I thought the Lakers did a decent job defending Lebron. I think they could've been even better, but given Lebron's 5-for-20, 16 point statline, it was a good enough to win. The whole key with Lebron is to force him to give the ball up or smother him with numbers. The Cavs have the depth to hurt you if you do that, but relatively speaking, that is the best option. Here were 2 sequences that I though really showed what the Lakers were trying to do, to overload the strong-side,

Create a Numbers Advantage:

Just some pictures. In a straight up situation, you overload on the strong-side wherever Lebron has the ball, and the other players zone up behind. It's just a numbers game. It's like in football, when you play against a tough runner, you load up the box with 8 players. Yes you sacrifice some in your pass coverage, but you've got to do something to stop the freight train coming at you,

Hedge and Contain:

Usually when you hedge a ball screen, the hedger has to recover as quickly as possible to his original check to prevent a pass to a basket cut or a pop out jumper. Against Lebron, the Lakers hedge, then they stay and contain. They basically take their chances with Ilgauskas or Varejao, in this case Ilgauskas is wide open,


The Lakers look like a team on a mission right now. They definitely will miss Andrew Bynum but I think the team they have now is good enough to win it all, in fact I felt that way last year too. They had a bad finals, but if they can keep their focus, nothing is stopping them. As for Lebron, he's the most formidable player in the NBA right now. I don't know if there is a scheme or player in the world that can really shut him down. With an upgraded supporting cast, this could be the matchup we see in June.

It's coming down to playoff time for those of you Varsity coaches. For more a new video on some high-intensity practice drills, check out Jamie Dixon's DVD on Competitive Practice Drills. Coach Dixon is the head coach at University of Pittsburgh. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk hoops with other coaches.