The intensity in the NBA Playoffs is picking up, especially on defense. Miami is turning up its pressure, San Antonio is trying to deal with the shooters from Golden State, and Memphis is dealing with a dynamic scorer in Kevin Durant. As the defensive pressure turns up, watch how offenses respond by going backdoor.
Good players and good teams know that if the defense tries to lock-up, you must have a plan for attacking the backdoor. There’s no more important skill on the court, but also in our lives and in the church. Let’s take a closer look!
BASKETBALL – The smart take from the strong!
Everything you need to know about executing a backdoor play you can learn from Pete Carril, the legendary Princeton coach who brought his ideas to the NBA.(Watch Professor Pete Carril for his story). Whether running the Princeton offense, set plays, or any other continuity, attacking an aggressive defense with threatening basket cuts and skilled passing is smart. As outlined in his classic book, The Smart Take From the Strong, it’s also an overall philosophy of common sense. You can build reads into any offense, as Carril does, and by using a drill we’ve called TC-4, or you can use designed sets like these from the college game (thanks again to Zak Boisvert from Iona):
Here are few points to remember when teaching backdoor plays:
1) When teaching basket cuts as a read, teach players to commit to the cut. Undesigned fakes and jabs create as many turnovers as baskets. When you cut, cut!
2) Passers must develop a one-hand bounce pass off the dribble with either hand. This requires practice, but dribbling at a teammate being closely guarded is one of the best ways to set up a backdoor.
3) Post players must be taught to be involved, both as cutters and as passers. Don’t expect them to make critical passes without teaching them.
4) Commit to a designed play, with options to deal with help defenders and as a counter to other frequently run plays.
Backdoor plays also have psychological effects. The defense feels threatened and exposed, while the offense feels relief and confidence. A huge sense of comfort that resonates throughout the bench can be just the spark a team needs.
LIFE – When love is in the house.
Don’t we all need that feeling of comfort – that feeling that even when the pressure is on, we can handle it? I know it was a different time, but as kids we played in the street and in the alley, even though our neighborhood had its share of bullies, gangs, and drugs. One thing we always knew, though, was that the backdoor to our house was open. It’s where we ran at the first sign of trouble. It was comforting. Isn’t that the way our homes should be, even if you don’t have kids? Home should be where we feel safe, where we can learn to deal with pressure, and where we feel loved. I thought about that a lot the last few days as I watched my kids interact with my wife. I know without a doubt that she has created a home where they feel love and support which allows them to handle the pressure they encounter at school and with their friends. In fact, I feel that, too, and I urge you to make it a priority in your house as well.
FAITH – The Church needs a backdoor, too!
Sometimes, the Christian church forgets this idea. For many people,our churches seem judgmental and critical. They can even seem unapproachable. When I hear the word “backdoor” I can’t help but remember seeing one of my favorite singers, Toby Mac, in concert and hearing him preach about the concept of love that Jesus taught us in John 13:35:
35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Listen and you’ll see what I mean:
That feeling of love is what all of us, believers and non-believers, should feel in our churches. With all the pressure and confusion of our society, we need a place to feel that same kind of comfort and confidence that comes from a perfectly executed backdoor play. I’m sure nobody ever thought Pete Carril could be linked to Toby Mac, but I just did -through the backdoor!