≡ Menu

Feeding the Big Dog: A Breakdown of the Rockets’ Post Feeds

Successful Post Entry

One of the keys to the Rockets’ success so far this season has been their ability to use effective play from the post to score points. First Howard and then Motiejunas have established themselves on the block, providing a vital source of structure and (more importantly) points for the team’s offence in the half court. Although the big men have been converting at a high rate when they get the ball in position, from time to time the rest of the Rockets struggle to get them the ball in good position to make a move (Rahat and Forrest alluded to this in their podcast). In this post I’ll take a look at a few examples of post feed situations in order to look at what the Rockets could do better here.

Let’s start off by looking at a post feed that worked well from Saturday’s win over Denver. Watch as Jason Terry feeds Motiejunas in the post, who proceeds to school rookie Josef Nurkic on the way to two points:

Here’s a still at the point that the ball is entered in to Motiejunas:

Successful Post Entry

Look at the relative positions of D-Mo and Terry as the pass is made. Terry is very near the edge of the court, just above the break mark of the three point line. Because of his positioning, there’s almost a straight line between himself, D-Mo and the basket. This is good because it is very difficult for the defender to disrupt – if Nurkic wants to stop the entry pass he has to come all the way around Motiejunas, a long way to go from the natural defensive position. Another benefit of setting up this way is that it makes it easy for the pass to be delivered right into Motiejunas’ chest. If he has to move to his left or right to get the ball, he is liable to lose post position (since Nurkic will be leaning on him slightly) and is also susceptible to a cheeky bump or pull at a vital time that could cause a turnover. As it is, the bounce pass arrives right on target and allows D-Mo to get to work straight away.

Now let’s take a look at an example where the post feed does not come from such a good position. In this clip Beverley makes a successful post feed initially, but some good defence by Faried breaks up the hand-off play the Rockets try to run. When Beverley tries to feed Motiejunas a second time, it doesn’t go according to plan:

Here’s the point where Beverley tries to feed it to Motiejunas this time:

Failed Post Entry

Notice how in this example, Beverley is a lot higher up the floor. A straight line between himself and Motiejunas goes parallel to the key rather than to the basket. Because of the change of angle, it’s a lot easier for Nurkic to steal the ball – if Beverley tries to throw a bounce pass into Motiejunas’ chest Nurkic only has to get round 90 degrees (or more likely just stick out a long arm) to cause a turnover. As a result, Beverley’s pass is away from the basket towards the corner. D-Mo has to go and get the ball instead of allowing it to come to him. This is a very vulnerable state of affairs and all it takes is a small bump from Nurkic to disrupt things. D-Mo doesn’t make the catch and the ball goes the other way as a result.

It should be emphasised that it’s still possible to enter the ball into the post from a higher angle (indeed, in researching for this article I did find a few plays where perfectly acceptable post entries happened from this sort of set up. However, that mostly happens when the defending post player is passive. An active defender who is alert to the threat of being posted up is much more likely to try fronting or sneakily pushing to break up a post isolation, and this is where the problems occur. It was noticeable at the beginning of the year that the Rockets stuck rigidly to entering the ball from nearer the break, and in general the post entry passes were a lot smoother back then. However, as the season has worn on they seem to have got lazier with their positioning and allowed mistakes like this to enter their game. Now that they have two post-up threats again they’re going to have to brush up on their entry passing form to make sure they make the most of out of Howard and Motiejunas.

View this discussion from the forum.

in essays