Get The 2, Don’t Force A 3

Too many teams want to set up a 3-point play late in the game when trailing by 3 points when a quick 2-pointer allows you a better chance to score and extend the game.


Trailing by 3 points against the Houston Rockets in their first matchup this season, the Celtics were inbounding the ball with 11.6 seconds remaining on the clock. Instead of setting up a do-or-die 3-pointer, Brad Stevens drew up this play to net a quick 2 and allow the Celtics to extend the game (one Boston would end up winning). 


All four players are on the opposite side of the inbounder (4). Your point guard (1) is near mid-court. 3, 2 and 5 are on a diagonal stagger between the far corner and wing. 


On the signal, 5 curls in front of the teammates and moves to the corner and as 5 passes by, then 2 sprints low through the lane. 1 takes a couple steps toward the ball [A]. 2 continues through the lane and curls toward the ball. 4 inbounds to 2, then runs toward the top of the key as 1 cuts inside the 3-point line [B]. 1 sets a backscreen for 4, who curls around the back of it and through the middle of the lane. 2 throws a pass to 4 on the cut for the easy layup [C]. 


1. Having a stack on the far side confuses the defense and makes players difficult to cover once the stack breaks
2. Look at all this open space in which to operate on the ball side of the floor — this makes 2’s pass toward the hoop an easier one to make


3. 1 needs to set up this screen by making it look like a cut toward the hoop, then squaring to set the backscreen and seal the defenders away from the middle of the floor
4. 2 catches and looks quickly toward the middle of the lane as the pass should lead a wide-open 4


5. 4 catches and scores the easy layup before any defenders have an opportunity to challenge the shot


The entirety of this play took 4.3 seconds to run and left 7.3 seconds on the clock, which gave Boston more than enough time to extend the game and force a Houston turnover.

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