I went through some recorded stuff and came across the Rockets and the Thunder from a few nights ago. I read the article by Adrian Woj the other day about the Rockets and their seemingly incapability to stay completely healthy enough to make a Championship run. It would be nice to see them get through, I think they have the right combination of offense and defense, but they do somehow need to stay healthy enough to see it through.

Well, the Thunder aren't exactly the best team in the NBA (6-32 record) but I thought that on this night anyways, the Rockets did a good job of switching up their defense on the Thunder's best player Kevin Durant. When you have to go up against a prolific scorer, in my opinion it's a good tactic to constantly give that person different defensive looks. In this case, they will double Durant, but they switch the timing, so sometimes on the catch, sometimes on the bounce, sometimes not until the lane. Take a look,

When to Double:

I don't think that there is any hard and fast rule. It's highly contextual. In general, I would say that on the wing, you would double on the dribble whereas in the post, you would double on the catch. The Rockets do both, early on in the second half, they double on the catch,

But later in game during the crucial last 2 minutes, the Rockets decide to double Durant on the dribble. Also, you'll notice in the last 2 video sequences, it was a different person who doubled, Scola then Yao. This first time it was Scola,


In my opinion, it is on the defensive end where coaches must think more tactically. We would all love to have the 5 best M2M defenders in our respective leagues on our team, but of course that isn't reality. The reality is, the other team always has a way to exploit your defensive weakness and therefore it is up to you as a coach to figure out what it is and how to adjust. Before and after games, I am always thinking about who should guard (or guarded) whom, should we double, should we front, should we zone, etc...

As for the Rockets, I think that they are good right now, but not great. If they can get back to playing the kind of defense they played last year when Yao went down, they could be a top 4 team. I think they obviously have potential, especially with Artest now with the team, but they're not there yet.

For more great info on defensive techniques, take a look at Jay Wright's DVD on Defensive Drills and Techniques. Coach Wright talks about stance and strategies to contain quick ball handlers. To discuss this and many more of your favorite basketball topics, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk with other coaches from around the world.