Video Breakdown: What is Lock and Trail defense?

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Last time on the glossary we covered an offensive move named after Allen Iverson, but today we’re going to talk about a defensive technique you may have heard of called “Lock and Trail”.

The lock and trail — sometimes called “lock and ride” or “lock and go” — is a defensive method typically used for guarding a jump shooter coming off a screen, but it can also be utilized on dribble handoffs and elsewhere on the floor.

The basic idea is for defenders to come over the top and pressure guys at the arc. That happens when a down screen is set on a shooter, usually below the free-throw line, and the defender “locks” onto his man and “trails” him to the 3-point line, even if he cedes what appears to be an easier route to the basket.

But it’s not meant to be so easy. This is a help defense situation, where the trailing defender is trying to prevent the jumper and the help defenders are preventing the drive.

The technique is built to pressure a shooter off of his spot and back toward defenders until a recovery or full switch can be made, and a good result for NBA coaches utilizing the lock and trail would be a mid-range jumper with the 3-point line and the painted area locked up.

Let’s diagram what that looks like by watching the full video breakdown above, or the write-up below.

Drawing it up

Let’s say you’ve got the start of a set with two posts and two wings down near the block. Defenders here are in white, and the red offense is trying to get the ball to the guard with the yellow star.

In order to get the guard free, the center is going to set a down pick on his defender. The star is going to pop to the arc and curl around to received the pass from the point guard.

Lock and trail means fighting into the direction of the screen, staying on a defender’s shoulder, and following him around to the arc.

Once the offensive player gets to this point, he has to make a choice to dribble toward the basket or pass, where help defenders from the post and the point can dig down and help slow his progress until the trailing defender can catch up.

That’s the basic concept, now let’s check it out on tape.

You can see the lock and trail in action here by the Mavericks against Golden State. Klay Thompson is at the right elbow looking to come of a screen from Draymond Green.

The defender goes up and over to prevent him from getting the shot at the top of the arc, then the help defender comes off of Green to stop the drive before they eventually make a full switch.

Even when players are behind on a play, it can be an effective tool to run guys off the line, especially when it’s mixed with a soft ICE coverage. Rodney Hood is pretty far behind Devin Booker when this play starts, but look at how razor thin he’s cutting this angle off the screen to pressure Booker at the arc.

That’s mixed with an open invitation thanks to this pick-and-roll coverage by Derrick Favors, and Booker takes the bait as he moves toward a midrange shot.

Finally we have the Raptors trying to get DeMar DeRozan off a stagger screen coming to the near side of the floor. Andre Iguodala is down low with him, and doesn’t go over the top, instead locking and trailing to prevent a corner three.

As Iguodala trails, JaVale McGee comes off his man to stunt on DeRozan long enough for Iggy to recover.

That’s the basics of the lock and trail. It’s an alternative to switching screens or cutting underneath them, and now if you hear someone using that terminology, you’ll know that it’s a way for teams to run 3-point shooters off the arc and into the teeth of the defense by coming over the top of screens.

Pacers erase 17-point deficit to take 2-1 lead over Cavs

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Bojan Bogdanovic scored 30 points, leading the Indiana Pacers back from a 17-point halftime deficit for a 92-90 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night for a 2-1 lead in their first-round series.

Cleveland was 39-0 during the regular season when leading after three quarters and kept that perfect mark intact with a Game 2 win.

The incredible second-half charge came exactly one year after Indiana blew a 26-point halftime lead in a historic playoff collapse against the Cavs.

This time, the Pacers delivered a devastating blow to the three-time defending Eastern Conference champs – on a night LeBron Jones joined Michael Jordan as the only players in playoff history to record 100 double-doubles. James finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Cleveland from losing its first game this season after leading following the third quarter.

The biggest reason for the collapse: Bogdanovic.

After charging back with striking distance, he completed a four-point play to finally give the Pacers an 81-77 lead with 6:10 left. Bogdanovic followed that with another to make it as seven-point game.

Then James answered with the next seven to tie it.

Bogdanovic came right back with a layup and another 3 before Thaddeus Young scored to give the Pacers a 91-84 cushion with 53 seconds left.

James knocked down a 3 to cut the deficit to four, and the Cavs got another 3 from Kevin Love with 7 seconds left to make it 91-90.

Darren Collison made 1 of 2 free throws with 5 seconds left, giving Cleveland one more chance. But J.R. Smith‘s long desperation heave came up short..

Shaq attacks verse in new TV series "Poetry in America"

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Shaquille O’Neal called himself “The Big Baryshnikov” and “The Big Socrates” in his days in the NBA. Now he can add “The Big Shakespeare.”

The basketball Hall-of-Famer, TNT TV analyst, commercial pitchman and onetime rapper is putting poetry on his lengthy resume as part of a new public television series.

He brings his best bard to a dramatic reading of a poem in his episode of the 12-part “Poetry in America ,” then discusses it with Elisa New, a Harvard English professor who hosts the show.

“I’ve always been into poetry,” O’Neal said in an interview with The Associated Press in a sunlit conference room overlooking the Los Angeles skyline. “I’ve been writing rhymes all my life.”

“Poetry in America,” distributed by American Public Television and presented by WGBH in Boston, is airing at various times on local public TV stations. Some episodes, including Shaq’s, are already available to stream.

On the show the 46-year-old former All-Star from the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat recites “Fast Break,” a poem by Edward Hirsch from his 1986 book “Wild Gratitude.” It describes some very imperfect players who manage to put together a perfect basketball play.

“A hook shot kisses the rim and hangs there, helplessly, but doesn’t drop,” the poem begins, “and for once our gangly starting center boxes out his man.”

O’Neal, whose 350-pound bulk would never be called “gangly,” still related to the center in the verse, but said he initially missed the poem’s point.

“The first mistake I made was thinking it was about basketball,” he said. “I read it real quick I said `fast break, shovel passes, sure, this is what I do.”‘

He said New, who sat next to O’Neal in the interview and like almost everyone is utterly dwarfed by him, gave him whole new insights that led to a fast friendship.

“When she broke it down intelligently for me, I was very astounded and very amazed,”

The poem is written for a close friend and playing partner of Hirsch’s who had just died. That’s easy to miss if you skip past the dedication at the top, as most readers do.

“It’s fun that only later as you’re reading, you look back at that dedication,” New said. “One line can change everything.”

Suddenly it becomes an examination of transcendent moments and human connections.

“It’s about friendship, it’s about caring, it’s about emotions,” O’Neal said. “I had missed that.”

His latest learning experience took O’Neal’s thoughts back to high school, where he had a 69 percent in English after blowing a test during the basketball playoffs, and needed a 70 to stay eligible for sports.

The teacher allowed him a retest, and suggested a tutor.

“This guy, his name was McDougal, he was a geek, he saved my academic life,” O’Neal said. “Everybody bullied him in school, except me.”

O’Neal said he took the work and “broke it down, made it seem so simple.”

“I retook the test, got an 80, and we won the state championship,” O’Neal said.

“Now,” he said, “I always tell kids I’m a geek.”

The professor had another name for him. “He’s a learner!”

O’Neal partly looked the poet during the interview in a polo shirt and jeans, having traded his basketball sneakers for a pair of slip-on Toms shoes, size 22.

When he wanted them, a company executive told him “it wouldn’t be worth it to make them in my size unless I bought 500 of them,” O’Neal said. “I told him to give me 2,000.”

 

Rumor: Grizzlies had to choose between Marc Gasol and David Fizdale

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David Fizdale has been linked to most of the NBA’s head-coaching vacancies.

He developed a legion of backers as lead a Heat assistant, and he did good things guiding the Grizzlies before they unexpectedly fired him. He deserves consideration.

But he also must explain his fractured relationship with Memphis star Marc Gasol. They weren’t speaking for a while.

And maybe the problem was even worse than that.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

According to a source close to Fizdale briefed on the Grizzlies’ decision, it was ownership having to make a choice — trade their All-Star center Marc Gasol, who has fallen in love with its small-market city, or fire the coach. Their relationship had gotten that bad.

If Grizzlies ownership felt it had to choose between Gasol and Fizdale, it’s not clear why.

Fizdale benched Gasol down the stretch during the coach’s last game, and Gasol publicly expressed his frustration.

But Gasol denied issuing a me-or-Fizdale ultimatum. Fizdale said focus on his relationship with Gasol was “overblown,” adding he cared far more about whether he could win with a player than whether they got along personally.

Memphis obviously sided with Gasol – probably too strongly.

LeBron James bought Cavs teammates matching designer suits to wear to game tonight

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I’m still trying to decide if this is cool or a little too Stepford.

The Cavaliers rolled into the Bakers’ Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis tonight wearing matching designer suits, all paid for by LeBron James and custom fitted to each player.

If a college team rolled into a game in four-digit designer suits, the NCAA would have questions. And not about the vests.

The Cavaliers are LeBron’s team, and if he wants to buy his teammates suits and tell them to wear them it’s going to happen. Is it a bonding thing that helps bring them together? Sure. Is it in place to make sure LeBron remembers which ones are his new teammates? Probably not.

Do the suits help on the court? No. And the Cavaliers better bring it in Game 3 because if they go down 2-1 in this series — something that is a realistic possibility — the whispers of doubt are going to get a lot louder.