I watched a segment on ESPN's Global View on the NBA with Coaches Carlos Morales and Alvaro Martin who breakdown something significant from the week past in the NBA. They were talking about the Los Angeles Lakers and how so far this season they have become one of the best defensive teams in the NBA so far. They talked about how the Celtics crushed them with their overload style defense and how the Lakers adopted that same style of defense this year. To the Lakers credit, I don't think they are simply imitators of the Celtics, the Lakers actually ran it last year in the playoffs against the Nuggets in the first round.

The main difference so far this season is that the Lakers are running their overload defense all game every game. I took some clips from last nights game against the Houston Rockets, in their key 3rd quarter run. The first clip is just a great defensive recovery by Kobe, which is what allows the Lakers to be successful in their tilting defense. The next 2 clips show how they bring one player over to the strong side to zone it up. Watch closely:

The Tilt:

The setup is quite simple. Here, Pao Gasol is the strong-side helper. He leaves his man to go to the vacant strong-side block to take away the wing pass. All 5 defenders work in unison. When the offense drives into the lane, they all collapse, when the ball is passed out, the closest defender closes out and the rest of the players rotate.

Take Away the Wing Drive:

The whole reason for this defense is to take away the primary threat in today's game, that is the wing penetration. Instead of allowing the drive and trying to force baseline, the idea is to take it away altogether. The offense will then try to reverse the ball around the 3-point line. But because the Lakers have great athletes, they will recover by the time the ball gets to the wide open man. The only way you can beat the tilt and get the open shot is to fire the pass directly to that open man, which requires a Steve Nash or Jason Kidd,


The Lakers can run this kind of defense because they have players like Kobe Bryant who can recover quickly and still block the shot. They can afford to gamble on leaving 1 player open knowing that they can still recover in time. In other words, this defense won't work for every team. Now, the big weakness here is rebounding. Because of all the rotations, you lose your block out responsibility. So like zone defense rules, you have to block out an area, which isn't as effect as blocking out a man. That is to say, you will give up more offensive rebounds using this defense, but obviously Coach Phil Jackson and his staff feel that is one area they are willing to concede if they stop the ball.

For a new M2M defense video, check out Mark Fox's DVD on Building a M2M Defense. I like his idea of emphasizing taking charges. This fits well with the tilting the floor concept if your help-side defenders are going to contribute, they need to step up and take some charges. Talk hoops strategy at the X's and O's Basketball Forum with other great coaches from around the world.