If you’re trying to figure out what is being done differently on defense this year, one of the things that might come to your mind is the increased pressure being put on opposing point guards at the onset of a play. Casey’s tried to shorten the clock by applying increased pressure at the point, shaving valuable ticks off the clock and producing undesirable options for the offense.

In today’s segment I’ll point out a play late in the Charlotte game, where Casey deployed the “PG trap” twice on one play. The first time it worked, the second time it failed due to late recovery. The point here is that if you’re playing this kind of defense, you need agile athletes who can do what is very difficult to do in the NBA: cover ground. There’s a reason he wanted Tyson Chandler, it’s exactly in situations like these.

Here’s a pick being set on Jose Calderon. Ed Davis will come out to trap DJ Augustin instead of taking the two “traditional” options of 1) getting back to his man, DJ White, and 2) laying off the guard, thus preventing the drive and perhaps rely on a rotation to pick DJ White up.

Notice the distance between Ed and White, who is wide open (although Amir Johnson is in a potential help situation, but nowhere close to contest a jumper). Charlotte chooses to swing the ball to the other side because Jose Calderon is positioned well and is preventing a quick, zip pass back to White. If Augustin had to make this pass, it would have to be a lob which would take longer to execute, allowing greater time for defensive recovery.

Ed Davis has managed to get back, and Charlotte is now running the play again on the other side of the court with Kemba Walker, with Amir Johnson being asked to perform the same task as what Davis just did – trap/hedge and recover.

Notice how far Amir Johnson is from his man, Boris Diaw, at this point. He has a lot of ground to cover to get back, and even if Ed Davis rotates over to help, it creates a 2-on-1 situation very close to the rim.

This is probably the point where Johnson made his only mistake: he ball-watched instead of continuing on his track back to Diaw. If he had stuck to his assignment, Barbosa would have contested any shot from the shorter Walker, which would’ve been uncomfortable in any case since Johnson was right around his side of the rim.

The short pass from Kemba Walker to Boris Diaw is converted for a jumper as Johnson is a split-second too late.

The play in its entirety:

In a two point game late in the fourth, it’s always the small stuff that wins or loses the game.

Win free tickets from RR to watch plays like the above in action.

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22 Responses to “Breaking It Down: When You Hedge, You Must Recover”

  1. Puffer

    Your point is well taken that it wasn’t that Amir didn’t have the ability, it’s that he lost focus and watched for a second instead of moved. The good news is that this CAN be taught.

  2. hateslosing

    Great post. Very illustrative of what we are trying to do as a defense. This is one of the areas we miss Bargs, he was going an excellent job in these positions before he went out. 

    • Theswirsky

      Bargnani has done a great job hedging, but his recovery has been bad.  He’s also robotic when hedging and automatically hedge even when his man slips the screen.

      The positive out of it is he actually trying when he is in the pick and roll, but he still has a long, long way to go.

      • hateslosing

        I thought his recoveries were alright in some cases, not perfect but it’s a work in progress. A lot of the time he focuses too much on getting back to his man, to the point where he doesn’t see the ball like he should. He’ll never be Tyson Chandler or anything like that, but he is very quick and long which helps him out a lot in those situations.
         Certainly he recovers better than Amir does in that example video.

    • 511

      One thing we might’ve learned about Bargs is that when he’s finally back, we can ride him … just not like a rented mule. 

  3. c_bcm

    I love this kind of stuff. I would like to see more of these.  I am a huge basketball fan, but I have never played on an organized team before so I can’t watch the game from a technical stand point. Much of these details are lost on me. But I am smart enough to see’em, when they are pointed out to me like this ;).

    Might be fun to do this post in reverse to see if we can point out the mistakes or the good plays before you break it down for us.

    Nice work. Maybe a weekly or bi-weekly post?

    • 2damkule

      a bevy of contributors on this site that do some pretty nice breakdowns, though they aren’t raptors-centric (which is actually nice):


      sebastian pruiti does some nice breakdowns every so often on grantland.com.

      like i said, these sites won’t often focus on the raps, but it does give an insight into how plays ‘happen.’

  4. KoolGrap

    When there’s no compelling other stories about the team, these video breakdowns are awesome. The more of these the better. It brings back a nice little bit of interest to an otherwise lost season. 

  5. 511

    Tonight’s game has the makings of a good one. Going into the All Star break, both teams are sure to want it, bad. Pistons have been rolling and Raps have been practicing hard on Casey’s fundamentals. Fingers crossed.

    And … how is it even possible that this year’s schedule is sooooo f’d up with the ridiculous high number of games in such short periods of time and then … this long stretch, right BEFORE the long All Star break-stretch? It’s like a six year old slapped the schedule together in a hurried half-hour. I love the sport at this level but I quite dislike the people who run it.  

    And … does it really pay — I’m really wondering ‘cause I don’t use it and I don’t ‘get’ it — to promote the Facebook page, excluding other RR fans and users? Rhetorical question, as I suppose it must (pay), but … it seems a bit unfriendly … or at least, restrictive, from my perspective. 

  6. Ppellico

    I also LOVE this stuff. It helps me understand the game as more than just an emotional fan

    So please advise on another startegy that scares the friggin life out of me.

    When I see Gray WAAAAY out front cutting off a guard at the top above the 3 point line,  suddenly trying to get back to his man nearer to the basket. Most times it works but he is scrambling back with his arms raised to luckily block a inside pass.
    And it looks like he is pulling an Oak Tree as well.

    But the plan scares me. What is behind this defense?
    Why is it good to have what we all know is a slow 7 foot big body out on and above the 3 point line cutting off a dribbler? His best position is taking space inside, setting wall from which shooters to find santuary…and rebound like hell.
    But defending out top???????

    Is there a possible plus to this move?.


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