I took in the Raptors and Hawks game last night on the NBA schedule. I think a lot of people are surprised at the Hawks who have continued to play well beyond taking the Celtics to 7 games last season. The Raptors won the game (a home game), but I liked the way the Hawks played. I think they could be a dangerous team in the playoffs this year, especially with the Pistons appearing to be weaker.

What is most remarkable about the Hawks is their early offense and fast break. Not only do they run a great primary break, but they have some nice secondary break as well. One of the very simple, but effective plays they run involve a baseline runner, then a quick reverse. Here are a couple of sequences from the first half of the game,

2 very simple secondary breaks. One going right, one going left. One with the point guard, one with the shooting guard.

Baseline Going Right:

Bibby passes off to the wing, cuts to the ball-side corner. Then he cuts to the far-side corner. Calderon follows Bibby to the corner, but then he stays on the ball side, presumably to help on dribble penetration,

O4 and O5 move towards the ball as O2 passes to O3 up top, who touch passes it to Bibby in the corner. In the clip, X4 (Bosh) tries to rotate and closeout but is late and Bibby knocks down the 3-pointer,

Baseline Going Left:

This time, O3 is the shooter and is already in the ball-side corner as O2 dribbles to the wing. O3 runs the baseline to the opposite corner. O5 dives to the opposite low block, O4 goes to the opposite elbow. X3 follows O3 but stays in the lane to protect the basket,

O4 comes to the high post, O2 passes to O4 who then touch passes to the opposite corner. X3 (Parker) tries to closeout but is way late,


This secondary break takes advantage of a sagging or help defense that looks to protect the ball, and/or switches screens. Now, if the defense trails, O4 and O5 should set a stagger screen for the baseline runner to create space and disrupt the trailer. I think as coaches, we should spend more time thinking of secondary break plays. You can run your secondary break, and if the shot isn't there, fall into motion. Other great secondary breaks can be like an early post up, or just hitting the trailing forward running straight towards the basket. The best shot opportunities do often come as the defense is in their backpedal.

For more secondary break and fast break ideas, check out Stu Vetter's DVD on Fast Break and Secondary Break Offense. Coach Vetter is the head coach of Montrose Christian, the alma mater of Kevin Durant. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk about this and your favorite basketball topics.