I've been following the NBA off and on in between college and high school games and took in my first full game in a while tonight between the Houston Rockets and the New Orleans Hornets. It's amazing how in the Western Conference, 2 thru 8 are all bunched up between 4 points of each other. The Rockets are amazingly in 3rd right now, and the Hornets are sixth.

The game was decent, good intensity, a lot of good defense. I think the Rockets just played with more poise, from being at home. Without Yao, they really shared the ball well together I thought. This offensive play here is pretty neat I thought. It's a double stagger for a curl cut. They ran a few times, but here are a couple of sequences from the 2nd half,

Double Stagger for Curl:

The breakdown in the video showed the basics, but I'd like to add to it. The basic setup is a 1-2-2 with the wings flattened out to the corners. O4 comes up to receive the ball, O1 passes to O4. O5 sets the first screen, O1 goes to set the second of the stagger screen. O3 begins to setup his cut by going baseline, then v-cut back to the stagger,

O3 curls around the double-stagger and receives the ball from O4. Now, since X3 has decided to trail on the screen, O3 cuts straight to the rim. Van Wafer and Artest both did this in the video sequence. And since the lane is essentially free of defenders, it's basically a layup or dunk. The other option is that if X2 comes all the way for help, O2 should be wide open for the corner 3.

This is the added part. If the defense adjusts with X3 going underneath instead, anticipating the drive, O3 can simply take the open mid-range jumper from the elbow,

I watched a varsity high school game the other day, and the one team ran the curl series over and over for their best player and it worked like clockwork. If the defender chased, drive to the basket. If the defender sagged underneath, wide open mid-range all game long.


If I run pro-set plays, I like ones that are simple, with not too many iterations, but with options. That way, it's similar to a motion offense where the players can read the defense and execute the best play in that situation. I think the Rockets are a decent team, but without McGrady and with Yao off and on, I'm not sure how good they are in a 7-game series. The Hornets have lost some of the lustre from the past couple of seasons, the chemistry seems a little off.

A relatively new release here, legendary UNC head coach Dean Smith's DVD on the Shuffle Offense. Not sure who uses the shuffle these days exclusively, but good if you want some more info on screen, cut and fill stuff. Discuss your favorite defensive strategies at the X's and O's Basketball Forum with other coaches from around the world.