I watched most of the Warriors game against the Knicks tonight. I thought the Warriors played well and terrible, sometimes both at the same time. The Knicks I thought for the most part played well, even defensively, but obviously not enough for the win. One area that any team has to be aware of when playing the Warriors is transition defense. In my opinion, depending on situation and type of team you are facing, you have to adjust the number of players you send to the offensive glass.

Against a team like the Warriors, in my opinion you should not send any players to the boards and send all 5 back to defend. The positives of having all 5 on defense far outweigh the negative of not getting extra possessions. The Warriors have great early offense, but when forced to use the shot clock will most likely shoot 3-pointers. And as we saw tonight with the Warriors, 3-point shooting can come and go. In a couple of sequences that I caught in the first quarter, the Knicks get caught with 2 or 3 players going to the offensive boards and as expected, the results aren't good for them,

By no means am I singling out the Knicks as having terrible transition defense. In fact, after a bad first quarter, the Knicks would hunker down and get back on defense. I just happen to catch these clips for demonstration purposes.

Transition Defense is Important:

I posted earlier last year about this topic but I think it's worth re-emphasizing how much difference it makes having just 1 more defender makes when defending against a fast-break.

As you can see, with just 2 defenders against the fastbreak, you will have problems defending against 3 or even 2 players, especially when you take into account the 3-pointer.

By just adding 1 more defender, you've multiplied the options for defending the break. You can probably even defend against 5 players by forming the triangle with the wings shifting to cover the strong-side wing 3-pointer.


Against a good fastbreak team like the Warriors having all your players back won't completely stop all transition baskets. But I think by just adding 1 more player in transition defense, you can probably increase the probability of a defensive stop by at least 50%.

Now, the flip side to the argument for not sending any players to the offensive glass is due to the fact that the Warriors are a poor rebounding team (though Biedrins did happen to pick up a Warriors record 26 tonight). So, conventional thinking would be that you want to take advantage of this weakness of the Warriors and attack the boards to get extra chances. I just think that in the end, the +/- of getting back vs getting offensive rebounds will favor getting back overwhelmingly. I would be very interested to see a scientific analysis proving or disproving my hypothesis. Any takers??

Anyways, getting a little long-winded, over at Power Box Basketball, coach Sfera has a good post on transition defense complete with a drill you can use.

For video information, it's worth taking a look at Kelvin Sampson's DVD on defensive transition drills. Coach Sampson is the coach at Indiana and I think he is a great tactician having followed him since he was at Oklahoma and Washington St. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to discuss this and any of your favorite basketball topics.