I watched a couple of games today including the thrilling finish by the Hornets over the Magic. I decided to focus on the Spurs win over the Warriors tonight. It wasn't long ago (early in Mar) when the pundits were all crying about what happened to the Spurs. Don't look know, but the defending NBA champs are 2nd in the west and riding an 8 game winning streak (the longest current streak).

Against the Warriors, as I've said in the past, the key to beating the Warriors always comes down to transition defense. If you get back on defense and play tough 1v1 ball-defense, you will win. And that is exactly what the Spurs did tonight. Here is what Timmy Duncan said after the game,

“You know it’s going to be a high-paced game. You know they’re going to want to get shots up quick. I thought transition ‘D’ was really good for us. We got back and got in front of them. If we take away a lot of the easy stuff, if usually works to our advantage.”

Timmy is a smart man, he should be a coach someday. Anyways, to the clips, here are a few from the first half that I collected,

Transition Defense:

Whoever is playing the top of the key on offense has the primary responsibility to protect the basket. Everytime a shot goes up, that player is the first to sprint back. Transition defense takes some getting used to, because it is a natural tendency for players to watch the shot, and react 1, or 2, or even 3 seconds slow to sprint back. Against a team that can score quickly like the Warriors, that's suicide. Watch here how Michael Finley is already sprinting back before the ball leaves Bowen's hands. Finley is so far away from the play, there really isn't any need for him to crash the boards, and there isn't any point for him to hang in no-man's land, sprint back and protect the basket,

In this screenshot, the Warriors actually do a great job of ripping the ball out of the net and push it after Parker's sweet layup. But all 5, count 'em 5 Spurs, sprint back before the Warriors can run it on them,


Another thing you probably all noticed was how the Warriors were 1 and done, 1 pass then a quick shot. That's what transition offense teams do. They don't want to pass the ball and run clock, they want to score quickly. If you get back on defense, and keep everything in front, that will force a lot of ill-advised shots. Watch out for the Spurs, they look like they've found their mojo, just in time for the playoffs.

For a great video on competitive drills for both offensive and defensive transition, take a look at Bruce Weber's DVD on Competitive Drills. As always, head over to the X's and O's Basketball forum to talk with other coaches about your favorite basketball topics.