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Attacking The Double

For most of the game on Sunday, the Orlando Magic sent a hard double at Andre Iguodala whenever a screen was set for him on the perimeter. It was predictable, it was sometimes effective and it was also the reason they so easily tied the game up at 81. They drew up a perfect play to exploit the double, and I'd like to talk about some other things this particular defensive strategy could open up for the Sixers.

We'll start with the 1-4 set, this is how it typically looks (assuming both starting lineups are on the floor).

Now, Igoudala stays out beyond the three-point line, dribbling left to right on this diagram, where Sammy comes up and sets a screen on Turkoglu. Howard follows him up, Iguodala runs Turk into the screen, Turk fights over or around it, Howard comes from around the back side of the screen and they set the double on Iguodala. Let's freeze it there before anyone else on the court moves.
From this image, it's pretty clear how the Sixers got Sammy the open look to tie the game. Dwight Howard is no longer patrolling the paint, meaning if you attack the rim, Rashard Lewis has to decide whether to leave Thad and stop Dalembert, or stay with Thad and give up the dunk. Even if he does leave That, Sammy's probably going to have the inside position when he gets the ball. The difficulty of this situation is that Iguodala is now about 28 feet away from the hoop with a 6'10" defender and a 7' defender all over him. It's a difficult pass to make, and he's probably going to have to jump to make it quickly. Another problem is that unless Sammy catches the ball right under the hoop, you're asking him to be a playmaker and dump the ball down to Thad for an easy layup. Dalembert as playmaker makes me uneasy. Now let's look at the movement off the ball after Dalembert sets the screen.

Willie (or Lou) runs the baseline with Thad setting a screen for him as he goes by. Best-case, Orlando has to switch the screen, but probably not. Miller sucks out to the three point line, elbow extended. At this point, Thad can leave for the opposite corner, attempting to draw Lewis out of the lane as well, leaving the middle of the floor wide open for Sammy to dive. Or, the Sixers could try something like this:
Willie flashes through the lane, sucks his man out to the three-point line. Thad sets a back-screen on Miller's man in the corner, Miller uses the screen to get to the foul line. Iguodala gets him the pass right there. Dalembert then dives to the hoop, Thad settles in the corner and Miller now has the ball in a deadly position with four options. He can drive the lane with no Howard there to protect the rim, if he has enough air space from the back-screen, he can simply hit the fifteen-footer. He can hit Dalembert with a lob, or he can suck Lewis into the lane and kick to Thad for a corner three.

Personally, I think doubling with Howard like that is an insane strategy. The Sixers can, and should pick apart the rest of Orlando's defense in a four-on-three situation and I'd like to see several variations run off this set if Van Gundy chooses to utilize the defensive player of the year in a Reggie Evans, 28-feet-away from the hoop fashion. Another key when this play presents itself: Howard will be nowhere near the defensive glass. Crash hard and get easy put backs.

The key is for Iguodala to be able to get that first pass out of the double quickly. Of course, if he can split the double, that opens up another can of worms with endless possibilities, but Howard has done a great job of sealing off the split.