Analyzing Amar’e Stoudemire’s Awesome Defensive Rotation

There were 54.5 seconds left in the game. New York cradled a delicate 87-84 lead over the powerhouse Heat. Down 3-0 in the series, this was do-or-die time for the Knicks defense. Miami ran a high pick and roll between Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Bosh did well to quickly slip screen into the paint while both Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler were focused on Wade. The much maligned Amar’e Stoudemire made an awesome defensive rotation to push Bosh out to the baseline, where he then threw the ball into a back court for a turnover. Carmelo Anthony was fouled from three point land on the next possession and the rest is history. In this post, I am going to analyze how Stoudemire made the defensive play of the game for the Knicks. 

As you can see in the image, Wade and Bosh initiate the pick and roll at the top of the key. Notice the position of Chandler and Anthony, as this becomes very important. Also notice where Stoudemire, circled in red, is positioned at the beginning of this play. He is assigned to guard Shane Battier up at the top of the screen. As you can see in this image, Bosh isn’t in great position to set a hard screen, rather  he is setting himself up for a slip screen. Due to the fact that Bosh is a deadly outside shooter, Tyson Chandler is forced to play up on Bosh.

As can be seen here, Bosh doesn’t screen Anthony at all. He gives him a slight push and slips right into the paint. I think Chandler actually played this poorly, as he assumes Anthony will switch. However, when Bosh doesn’t actually set a screen, Anthony has a pretty unimpaired path to Wade. Chandler should have dropped back with the rolling Bosh, but that doesn’t happen.

As the entry pass comes to Bosh in the paint, notice how Stoudemire is now crashing towards where he THINKS Bosh will end up. Stoudemire takes an excellent angle on this play. He realizes that Bosh’s momentum is going to take him towards the restricted circle, and heads directly there. Carmelo Anthony also does an admirable job of trying to get into the play, but he is too far away to really impact  the entry pass.

This was taken when Bosh catches the ball. Notice how Stoudemire’s angle completely cuts off Bosh from the basket. Rather than gamble and jump at the ball, which we’ve seen him do in the past, Stoudemire does a great job of working to cut Bosh off and eventually push him to the baseline. You will see it more in the next photo, but Anthony also does a nice job of rotating to Stoudemire’s man, Shane Battier in the corner.

After Bosh catches the ball, Stoudemire does an excellent job of using his body to push Bosh out to the baseline. Stoudemire puts himself in a strong, square defensive position, not allowing Bosh to attack the baseline nor the middle of the paint. If Bosh was going to score, he would have had to shoot over Stoudemire. As you’ll see in the video, Stoudemire also gets underneath Bosh which forces him to give up the ball. Notice also how Carmelo Anthony has now put himself in the passing lane of a possible Bosh-to-Battier pass. Stoudemire’s rotation allows the Knicks to recover from an initially poorly defensed sequence. Despite the fact that the pick and roll was initially open, you can see now that the Knicks have the play very well defensed. Bosh then panics and throws the ball into the backcourt, giving the ball back to New York with 40 seconds to play.

Here is video of the play:

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