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The Importance of Post Play

How to Benefit from the Two-man Game

A quick caveat to all of this: while Jefferson has been most impressive during these past few games, it is important to remember that he is 21 years old and has never gotten the type of offensive responsibility that he has received recently. {styleboxjp width=300px,float=left,color=black,textcolor=white,echo=yes}As team’s start to game plan for him as a primary weapon, Jefferson will have to make adjustments in his approach and this may effect his production. {/styleboxjp} Jefferson has already shown far greater awareness in terms of passing out of the double-team as well as grasping the benefits of re-posting, so there are signs that he’ll be able to make these adjustments. With young players, it is just always a good idea to temper enthusiasm a little until they’ve shown that they can handle all the different looks that a seasoned defensive veteran squad can throw at them.

However, assuming that the team will continue to run its half court offense through Al Jefferson and play the two-man game with he and Paul Pierce both on the strong side, it is going to make it very difficult for opposing defenses to adjust. Pierce has helped this dramatically by continuing to feed the ball inside early in possessions, and it appears as if Pierce is fully aware of how much easier it is for him to get shots off when defenders are collapsing down low.

{styleboxjp width=350px,float=right,color=grey,textcolor=white,echo=yes}The weak side post defender is going to have to hedge over to cover Jefferson’s attack angles toward the basket and the strong side wing defender has to spy on Pierce when the ball gets kicked-out.{/styleboxjp} This shifts the defensive balance on the court far to the left or right hand side of the court, depending on which side the two set up on.

With Ryan Gomes at the opposite elbow waiting to receive swing passes from Pierce and kick-outs from Jefferson, he is in a perfect position to shoot, attack or distribute over to Allen or Telfair. Having quick players such as Tony Allen and Sebastian Telfair playing on the weak side perimeter, the team has been clearing out the strong side of the court to give Jefferson and Pierce maximum operating room and this has been further developed by putting Telfair or Allen in motion during these inside/outside possessions, which has forced one help defender to stay in motion while the play is going on. The team has been doing this in terms of clearing out the strong side, as they have run through the to the opposite baseline once Pierce and Jefferson have their preferred position.

{styleboxjp width=200px,float=left,color=yellow,textcolor=black,echo=yes} Allen has found his groove, by attacking the minute the ball is swung his way.{/styleboxjp} The driving lanes have been cleared for him to take advantage of his single defender, who is often two or more steps out of position and looking at the interplay between Pierce and Jefferson. Allen’s first step typically gets him by his defender and the help defense has been out of position as well, because they are the ones responsible for doubling Jefferson on the block. Allen’s ability to absorb contact and finish strong at the hoop is allowing him to be productive offensively, despite his lack of a pull-up jump shot. His free throw shooting has really stabilized, which makes the starting unit one of the best free throw shooting units in the league. Since Allen is a solid set-three point shooter, he’ll have opportunities to get off uncontested perimeters shots when his defender is too far away to recover.

Gomes is hitting his spot up shots and playing off of Pierce and Jefferson well with cuts toward the basket and put-backs off of any missed shots, again, because the help defenders are all out of position trying to contain the strong-side play of Jefferson and Pierce. As the player closest to the basket most often on these types of plays, Gomes has been exploring his own dribble-drive off of the swing pass, though he still passes up open lanes with some frequency. {styleboxjp width=300px,float=right,color=maroon,textcolor=white,echo=yes}Gomes has good court awareness and his attack position on the elbow allows for him to make plays for others as well as himself. {/styleboxjp} Strong moves to the basket will force the interior defenders to come to him, which will open up Jefferson for alley-oops, bounce passes, or simple dump-offs.

Telfair really stands to benefit from weak side positioning on the swing. Right now he’s been receiving the ball and still looking to pass, while its admirable that he’s accepted his role as the 4th or 5th option, he’s got to start gaining an awareness about when he has the best chance to score on a possession basis. Much has been made recently of Telfair’s limited offensive output, which is an understandable byproduct of less shot opportunities as well as the confusion of knowing when and where his shots are. But, his shooting and overall aggressiveness has not been up to par recently and he still has a role to play offensively. Finding that role should increase his confidence when taking shots, which should normalize his shooting percentage.

{styleboxjp width=300px,float=left,color=skyblue,textcolor=white,echo=yes} When Telfair sets up baseline weak side from Pierce/Jefferson, his speed and the defensive positioning of the opponents should give him a significant amount of room to drive toward the basket. {/styleboxjp}An example of this was during the fourth quarter of the Nuggets game when Telfair received a swing pass from Pierce and drove baseline for the uncontested layup. The pass was late, but Telfair’s speed was too much for the recovering defender to counter. Positioning baseline on the weak side should give him set-three point shots, pull-ups, layups, and especially kick-outs or quick-hitters to a cutting Gomes or dump-offs to Jefferson in addition to kicking it back out to the perimeter for Allen or Pierce.

{styleboxjp width=150px,float=right,color=green,textcolor=white,echo=yes} The team has just started exploring the possibilities of how to utilize the Pierce/Jefferson strong side dynamic, so it’s going to take a while to fully capitalize on how to best utilize it.{/styleboxjp} But the starting unit gives this team a great opportunity to create better possessions offensively for everyone based off the team’s newfound post game. Each of the players in the starting unit posses the ability to shoot, put the ball on the floor, and make passes to the open man. Having four plus passers and ball handlers on the court at once makes it very difficult for opposing defenses to fully commit to doubling Pierce and Jefferson on the strong-side because it’s giving the other three players a lot of space to operate. As this unit continues to play together, they should increase the speed and creativity with which they play.

Confidence and trust in one another should help them maintain their offensive diversity in pressure situations, which will help to eliminate the stagnant sets that have led to many of the team’s fourth quarter problems. {styleboxjp width=450px,float=left,color=darkblue,textcolor=white,echo=yes}These past five game have shown what can be accomplished with this type of play, regardless of quality of opponent.{/styleboxjp} The team has had problems finishing games for two seasons against any level of opposition, now they are fitted to begin “solving those problems” as Pierce put it the other night.

{mos_smf_discuss:Celtics Talk}