NBA Playoffs: Screen the Screener

By Mo Dakhil

In the NBA Playoffs, every possession matters and teams have to make the most out of every opportunity to score. Good coaches make the most out of their after timeout plays (ATOs) to create a good opportunity to score. Here are two plays ran by the Memphis Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers that involve screen the screener action which is difficult to defend.

Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies ran a great ATO out of a sideline out bounds play with two options that led to a Marc Gasol three.

The play starts with the ball inbounded to Andrew Harrison and Wayne Selden cuts across over the top. Vince Carter moved from the weakside block to the strong side wing, while Zach Randolph cleared out to the strong side corner to open up space at the rim. As Harrison passed the ball to Carter on the wing as Gasol set a backscreen for Selden for a lob. That is the first option, and in this example the Spurs’ big man dropped back to take away that option. Harrison sprinted down to set a screen at the just above the free throw line which freed up Gasol for a wide open three.


Cleveland Cavaliers

At the start of the fourth quarter, the Cavs ran a great screen the screener play that got one of the leagues’ best shooters a clean look.

As the ball is being brought up, LeBron James is on the weakside elbow with the Channing Frye on the strong side block, Kyle Korver starts on the other elbow. He sprints to the three-point line to catch a pass from Deron Williams, and then the ball is swung to Richard Jefferson on the wing. Williams sprinted to the weakside corner and Korver set a down screen to bring Frye up to the three-point line. The ball goes from Jefferson to Frye and then to James. Korver sets a backscreen on Jefferson and came off a screen set by Frye, James gets him the ball and Korver nails the jumper.


Screen the screener actions are put defenses in between a rock and a hard place, they must choose how to defend. Gasol and Korver both set great screens which forced the defense to react and left no one to defend them as they came off screens of their own.


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My name is Mohammad Dakhil and I bring 15 years of basketball experience at every level. I was a Manager with Santa Monica College and USC Men’s Basketball (1999-2005), and the Associate Head Coach at Santa Monica College Men’s Basketball team (2005-2006). After that I spent the following 8 years as Video Coordinator in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers (2006-2009, 2011-2014) and San Antonio Spurs (2009-2011). During my time in the NBA, I spent 3 off seasons as a member of the Australian National Men’s Basketball team (2010-2012) including qualifying for and taking part in the 2012 London Olympics.

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