Westbrook PnR Offense vs. Rockets Ball-Screen Defense

Yeah so I know the game wasn’t won by Rockets on defense, but inspired by Coach Daniel’s last video on the Rockets ball-screen defense I thought I’d go through some of OKC’s possessions from last night with Westbrook getting the pick.

Rockets put two on the ball quite often when there’s a threat on the perimeter, and while that could backfire against good opponents who should be able to read the short roll pass and 4-vs-3 part left quite well, OKC always has players who can be doubled off of. Conceptually, teams should be able to stop OKC, or at least force them to go with shooting lineups with worse defenders.

Rockets probably could have been much better containing Westbrook. Allowed some splits, did some bad stuff where the tactic didn’t really work, but in the playoffs if these teams match up I expect they could do quite well. All you have to do well is pre-rotate, contain the initial pick and recognize who is a shooter.

1st set Adams does a nice job of sealing Capela away from help position.

2nd play Rockets basically get what they want. Harden could contest a bit.

3rd play is again what the Rockets would want. Sabonis doesn’t take the three. At the end Harden and Williams run into a bit of communication issues (mainly Lou is the problem).

I don’t know what has been planned by OKC, but Adams gets another point for the good (prob. illegal but whatever) re-screen. This is the way to make it work. I assume in this case Ariza shouldn’t go under on the ball-screen.

Again Ariza going under. That doesn’t really make sense since you need to get pressure on the ball to make the pass harder. Harden doesn’t rotate but this is tougher since the Thunder now have Oladipo and Abrines on the weakside. It’s not really part of the plan but with more pressure up top, Dekker could read stronger help in the middle and maybe pass doesn’t get made. Houston is not going to rotate well with many shooters anyways.

Thunder ran this action 3–4 times in a row at the end of the first with Abrines screening. Good stuff came out of it (previous clip was same play too).

Westbrook split the PnR a few times. Not a fiasco since the Rockets can pre-rotate and get back to shooter. Not optimal of course either.

Ariza allows Westbrook to reject the screen which can’t happen since the man is suppsoed to be on the other side. If you pause at 4 seconds, you’ll see McDermott wide open on the corner 3 but Westbrook doesn’t pass it. Dekker does the right thing here to dig deep into middle and gets deflection, but Rockers should lose this equation overall because of the original reject.

Lou just isn’t standing where he’s supposed to. Gravity assist (lol) to Roberson.

Nene allows Westbrook middle (should be half a step higher). Otherwise Rockets have tons of advantages here. Beverley has Christon in the corner so he’s standing in the middle. Harden could be in better defensive stance and active with his hands but this is the Russell Westbrook pass an it’s hard to stop.

Last clip is relatively straightforward win for the Rockets. Good job on the initial pick, this is what happens when you don’t have shooters.

In summary:

  • Teams should do this against the Thunder, if you do it well and defend transition, should be able to keep OKC very low in ORTG in a playoff series.
  • Rockets do this against a lot of teams and I don’t know how it’ll work when there are shooters and a team has time to figure out all the counters.
  • Westbrook is tough but with a good big working with the guy guarding Westbrook, Thunder should be guardable.
  • This is the reason the Thunder will start playing shooters more in the playoffs.