Raptors Playbook: Horns Flare
Over at the Raptors Playbook YouTube channel (@RaptorsPlaybook on Twitter), I am breaking down the X’s & O’s of the Toronto Raptors. This week, we’ll focus on Horns Flare – an End of Quarter (EOQ) action. Watch the video embedded below alongside the summary written, and remember to follow and subscribe to never miss out on a video.
The play starts in Horns formation, which is commonly used throughout the league and by the Raptors (such as their Horns reverse or Horns Triple sets). The wrinkle to this variation is the Raptors choose to have a big and a guard (mainly DeMar DeRozan) situated at the free throw line, rather than two bigs in those same spots.
After the ball handler becomes centered along the perimeter above the three point line, they dribble towards DeRozan’s side and use him as a screen. This action is almost always superfluous, as the ball handler will not pursue the advantage gained by this screen. Rather, DeRozan will utilize a Flare screen set by the big on the opposing end of the free throw line. At this point, the ball handler has to make an over-the-top lob pass to the fading DeRozan.
Dictating how DeRozan is able to attack off this action are the ways in which the opposing team chooses to defend it. If they switch the guard-on-guard screen, DeRozan will have the new defender trailing him while he leads them into a screen. If the second screener’s defender is unaware of this and is fooled by the superfluous first screen, DeRozan will have a clear path to the rim.
If the second screener’s defender is attentive to DeRozan using the Flare screen, the action functionally serves as a pick and roll, where DeRozan will have a defender trailing on his hip while attacking a trailing big man downhill.
Lastly, if the original ball handler does not feel as though DeRozan has gained an advantage on the Flare screen, they can opt to hold on to the ball and engage in a strong side pick and roll themselves, which is seen near the end of the compilation.
When perimeter shooting threats are used in DeRozan’s place, they have the liberty of shooting on the catch after the Flare screen, though this action is rarely used by non-DeRozan personnel.
This action is not complex and is just a quick-hitter to get an open look for the Raptors’ leading scorers at the end of a quarter. The main goal of any EOQ action is to not only get a quality opportunity, but to ensure that it is the last shot, while mitigating the risk of a turnover that could lead to an unnecessary 4-point swing.