Now that I have your attention, let’s talk hoops first and then consider the connection to life. As the NBA Conference Finals began, I stated that one of the things I would be watching closely is the Miami Heat attacking ballscreens. Ballscreens and how a team defends ballscreens have become crucial elements of the game. Indiana is making a terrific attempt to take down the Heat in what has become an intensely physical chess match, but their reaction to Miami’s aggressive attack of the ballscreen has been a bit inconsistent.
Let’s take a closer look at aspects of both sides of the ballscreen and consider why in many cases, it may be better for the Pacers to simply avoid ballscreens and why avoiding similar situations in our lives, especially when it comes to things like sex, may be the best option as well.
BASKETBALL – Let’s go to the video!
Let’s look first at defending the ballscreens. Most NBA teams have a variety of tricks in their bag, but a common theme is to focus on keeping ballhandlers like Tony Parker and Chris Paul out of the paint. Chad Iske from the Denver Nuggets explains it in Team Defense Against the Pick and Roll and Kevin Eastman, from the Boston Celtics, addresses the need to be physical in defending screens in Defending the Pick and Roll. Miami takes it a step further. They’ll play very physically, but then will often use their screen defender to step up and trap. This allows them to create turnovers or to force the Pacers to take mid-range jump shots. If the Pacers aren’t hitting those, they’re in trouble!
The Pacers have plans to deal with Miami’s defense; however, they’ve been very inconsistent. Three techniques they’ve attempted are:
1. Splitting the trap, as demonstrated here by the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook:
2. Utilizing the Replace Big (as outlined by NBA player development guru, Mike Procopio) & Shorting the Screen as demonstrated by Memphis:
3. Slipping the pick, which often leaves Indiana’s big men in situations like this:
Zach Lowe’s terrific preview on Grantland.com of the playoff series explains a lot of this, while NBA coach Mike D’Antoni, still regarded as the true innovator in using ballscreens, provides the basics of running the Unguardable Pick and Roll.
Quite honestly, the Pacers guards had trouble all year with turnovers, so splitting the trap against the Heat defenders is not wise. By shorting the screen, the Pacers can get all the baseline jump shots they want, but they have to hit them and slipping the screens puts their big men in situations where they have to be great passers. Indiana is an average scoring team, so they need to play to their greatest strengths – Roy Hibbard in the low post, curling their scorers off downscreens, and then crashing the glass. I understand how engrained the ballscreen is in most NBA offenses, but the Pacers don’t need to use them for anything more than spacing and isolating Hibbard inside. As a coach, I normally want my teams to Attack Pressure, but how wise is it to attack if your team is turnover prone and playing against LeBron and D-Wade? Anything else is just foolish!
LIFE – The opposite of foolishness is wisdom.
Do you ever find yourself in the same kind of situation? You think you have a plan for handling an issue, you’ve worked out a strategy, and you build up your confidence only to find that you keep making the same mistakes and end up asking yourself, “Why did I do that?” Certainly, when facing problems we need to develop skills and change habits, but sometimes, the best answer is to remove yourself before the problem ever develops. That’s the difference between being foolish and being wise. Foolish people keep finding the wrong people to hang with. Foolish people cut corners when they stay out late every night. Foolish people keep going back to the credit card without having means to pay it back. Why not be wise and avoid those issues all together?
FAITH – Stay away from this trap!
Just like it makes sense for the Pacers to stay away from using ballscreens too much and allowing the Heat to get energized, the Bible clearly tells us about an issue to avoid – sexual immorality, in any form – sex outside of marriage, alternative lifestyles, internet porn, and a whole bunch of other stuff. The world tells us these things are permissible – excuses are made and we’re encouraged to “live freely.” We’re told that it’s our right But God has a wiser plan for each of us – Stay away! Don’t even mess with it! Paul clearly explained:
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18)
As the Monty Python comedy crew once screamed, “Run away!” And, that’s exactly what Joseph did in Egypt. You may remember that Joseph overcame terrible family circumstances after being sold into slavery (Genesis 39: 6-12). We’re told he was good-looking, charismatic, and a leader on the rise. By today’s standards. if anyone deserved to have his physical drives answered, it was him. Who could blame him? He deserved it! But when presented with the seduction of a Potiphar’s wife, Joe simply ran from the situation. Which is as wise a decision as the Pacers running away from the traps the Heat will use whenever they run ballscreens! Let’s see if they’re wise or foolish – and, if your still with me and are wondering more about this wisdom, check out Pastor Pete Wilson’s view of The Morning After.
Let’s talk about it! I love talking hoops and the Pick and Roll and I love to discuss living the Christian life. Contact me on FaceBook or send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org