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ATO Review: Brad Stevens uses the box set to free MarShon Brooks

Brad Stevens used a box set play to spring MarShon Brooks loose for a three-pointer during Wednesday night's game.

MarShon Brooks hits a three-pointer.
MarShon Brooks hits a three-pointer.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

Win or lose, it'll be exciting to see what kind of plays Brad Stevens devises in ATO situations. You may be asking, "What is an ATO?" Well, ATO stands for "after-timeout." During a timeout, a coach constructs plays for his team to run, but the play isn't run until after the timeout. This week, Brad Stevens received an abundance of opportunities to draw up plays in ATO situations.

At Butler, Brad Stevens was rightfully considered a tactician. He was one of the best in all of the NCAA at formulating tremendous plays in ATO situations. Even though the Boston Celtics have unfortunately lost their two games this week, for the first time we really got to see Stevens devise ATO plays. For the rest of the season, I will review some of Brad Stevens' best ATOs each week.

One play in particular stood out to me towards the end of Wednesday's matchup against the Toronto Raptors. With only 33.8 seconds left on the clock, the Celtics were down by 5, and Stevens called a timeout so he could arrange a play to help bring the team back. Before we go in-depth with the play, here is the video:

Brad Stevens went with a box set for this play, which is something he regularly used at Butler. The set allows for quick, simple plays against man-to-man defense. However, Stevens configured a relatively complex play for this situation. On the floor were three scorers, MarShon Brooks, Jordan Crawford, and Kelly Olynyk; one big, Vitor Faverani; and Chris Babb inbounded the ball.


To start the play, Vitor Faverani throws a simple screen to give Jordan Crawford some free space to receive the inbounds pass from Chris Babb.


After the ball is inbounded to Crawford, both Kelly Olynyk and Vitor Faverani come back to the ball to set screens. To spread the floor, Chris Babb runs to the corner-three and MarShon Brooks remains in his position.


Crawford dribbles through Olynyk's pick, successfully forcing a switch. Crawford now had Olynyk's man on him, giving him the quickness advantage.

However, Crawford quickly swung back the other way as Faverani threw a soft screen to force a second switch. Now, Jordan Crawford has an ideal isolation matchup with the big, slow center, Aaron Gray.


Oh, but, surprise, surprise. Look at what's happening on the backside of the play. After Olynyk set his first screen, he hustled to the corner to throw a pick for MarShon Brooks. This is where the magic really happens, even though it looks like the play is completely designed for a Crawford isolation. It is essential that Olynyk throws a good, strong screen right here.

Below is an image of the main portion of the play. Kelly Olynyk throws a perfect screen to spring Brooks loose as Crawford draws attention from the defense. As you can see, Brooks has plenty of empty space behind the arc, but Faverani has to get his body in the way of the help defender to assure that Brooks gets an open look.


Despite how perfect the play has gone so far, something goes wrong. Somehow Faverani totally whiffed on his screen, giving the help defender a chance at getting to Brooks.


Fortunately, Faverani has a wide body and was able to deter the defender's direct lane to Brooks, despite the fact there was no body contact. With the defender on Brooks' right side, he takes a nifty side-dribble to the left before taking his shot and drilling it.

In the image below you can see that Brooks had options to pass the ball even if he was covered well. He had Vitor Faverani, who popped back behind the three-point line after the attempted screen, and Jordan Crawford, who was left wide-open.


It's also worth noting that 16-seconds were still on the shot clock when MarShon Brooks took the three. Brad Stevens managed to draw up a brilliant play that took only 8-seconds off the clock, and still gave Brooks options had the play been botched.

Credit must also be given to the players on the floor for running the play almost perfectly. It's still the preseason and I thought these guys did a great job ingesting a complicated play and performing it quite well. The Celtics got the switches they wanted, and successfully screened the players they had to.

And of course, MarShon Brooks made a great individual play to get into better positioning for the shot. If Brad Stevens continues to draw up plays like this one, it'll be a fun year watching him coach the Boston Celtics.

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