Welcome back to The 3-Point Play, a semi-regular recurring feature here at HoopChalk. Every so often, I’ll take a quick look at sets from three different teams that have something in common. Rather than devoting a separate post to each of them, they’ll all be grouped together here. Today we’re looking at how the Heat, Celtics, and Hornets using a creative variation of the pick and pop– with a added punch at the end.
This starts with a flex action where Ray Allen has to make a read; he sees which way his defender is playing him and gos the other way. Allen comes to the top of the key and sets a pick for Dwyane Wade. He then slips out towards a flare screen from Chris Anderson. This is a basic screen the screener play; the idea is that Allen’s man is helping on Wade and won’t be able to recover and get around the Birdman screen. The Rockets counter this by switching, but Chandler Parsons is slow making the switch and Anderson’s screen stops him from getting up a meaningful contest on Allen’s jumper.
This play for Ryan Anderson is essentially the same thing. Anderson is a prolific pick and popper this just adds one more obstacle in the path of defenders that are already having trouble stopping him. Not to mention that this set is run on the secondary break, before the defense can set and get defenders in position to help.
The Celtics use these same concepts, but they use a more versatile player in Jason Terry. He was used quite often as a screener in Dallas (most specifically in a Nowitzki/Terry pick and roll) and Boston saw this and has integrated his screening into their offense. Terry has more been using this play to get in motion for a pick and roll it has often triggered a Celtics’ drive and dish attack that was missing when Rajon Rondo was the primary ball handler. It’s often underrated how important pre-pick and roll motion is. It forces more decisions–to help or not to help–from defenders, makes the defense off balance, and opens up the floor with driving lanes. The Spurs are a frequent practitioner of this as they often run Tony Parker around a series of seemingly meaningless screens to just set up a simple pick and roll.
As you can see this action isn’t complicated; if anything it’s just one step more complicated than a regular pick and roll. More and more teams are adding this to their arsenal, but it still isn’t as heavily relied on by other teams as it is by the Heat. They very often run it in crunch time situations and more often than not it is successful. Funny how one of the most star-studded teams in the league is leading the war against heroball.