After a poor shooting night in Game 1, you had to know that the Lakers would find their shooting rhythm back in Game 2 and they really started shooting lights out in Game 3, on the road. I thought the Rockets played excellent help defense in Game 1, but the Lakers just shot the ball poorly, chalk it up to the long layoff between the series.

Making sure your teams play help defense in a M2M setup is always welcomed. But in certain situations, I think teams need to adjust who and how they help, and in specific cases like the Lakers, rethink it altogether. The Lakers and the Cavs are probably the only 2 teams where you can't have help defense on, and instead must rely on solid 1v1 defense. Here are a few sequences late in Game 3 where the Lakers were able to get into the paint, collapsing the help defense, then finding the open shooters for the 3-pointer,

The only thing I want to point out is spacing and positioning. On the drive or post-up in the middle, the shooters must also make sure that they space the weak side and make it hard to guard. In other words, don't cluster together, shuffle cut to the open space as Vujacic and Brown do here,

With these small nuances, it makes help and recover even harder, because the defense now has to relocate the shooter who has moved, then close out.


The Lakers and the Cavs are simply too good of a shooting team to play simple help and recover defense. The Rockets are really going to have to rely on terrific 1v1 defense on Kobe and Gasol, and the rest of the defenders must stay on their man. The only other thing I can see possibly working is to aggressively trap, forcing long lob passes which allow the defense to recover.

If you want more info on building up your players 1v1 defensive skill, take a look at Jay Wright's DVD on Defensive Progression Drills
. Coach Wright is the head coach at Villanova which went to the Final Four in Detroit this past spring. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk hoops with other coaches.