Basketball Systems, Skills & Drills

Celtics ballscreens

Jamie Young
Boston Celtics
FIBA (YouTube)

See YouTube video - Boston Celtics pick and roll defence.

Ballscreen coverage and drills. Anything between the lane lines is a middle pick and roll, a side pick and roll is outside the lane lines. The Celtics ice a side ballscreen (send it baseline), and weak a middle ballscreen (force left).

See Defence - Woodley ballscreens.

a) Side ballscreens

Coach passes to 5 who passes to 3 lifting and follows to ballscreen. X5 anticipates the ballscreen as soon as 5 throws it, sprints down, has to get into position, starts calling it, ELC talk (early, loud, continuous), ice-ice-ice, and is never wrong (honour the big). X3 gets into the ball, hard stance to force it down.

3 will have a straight-line drive if X3 adjusts his stance before X5 is in position.

Brad Stevens - the higher the big can be the better, but only to the level of your mobility. Against a great player, ice to blitz, stay until the ball is passed.

3 dribbles down, throws it to 5, who passes to coach, repeat on the other side.

X5 calls a veer (switch) if 3 gets downhill and X3 can't square up the ball.

Stevens - out of convenience, "veer" is the guard's call, he knows when he's beat.

Progression - after the throwback to 5, 5 ball fakes to coach and makes a dribble handoff (DHO) to 3,

- X3 goes over (trails), 3 is a great shooter (shown)
- whip the DHO - X5 leaves a gap for X3 to go under 5, 3 can't shoot
- defend the DHO however you want.

3 will pass to coach, repeat on the other side.

See Defence - Pitt ballscreens.

b) Middle ballscreen

Weak it (force left). X1 is square on the ball then on "weak-weak-weak" jumps to the side, X5 sinks back a bit (about to the foul line). If X1 plays off, 1 can dictate wherever he wants to go.

In high school, try to stay in the paint as much as possible (the NBA has a defensive 3-seconds rule).

Defenders X2 and X4 are behind the play, they pull in early, X2 makes a quick tag (bump, chuck) then recovers back out, he is guarding a shooter, X4 makes the ultimate tag. (If the ball is dribbled toward you, inch out towards your man.)

X1 sends 1 left regardless of where the screen comes from, X5 corrals the ball as 1 comes off, X1 fights to get back in front. If X5 yells "veer" (switch), force a challenged 2-point shot, X1 gets in front of screener 5 to box out.

If X4 has to come all the way over to take the roller, X2 would take a skip pass to the corner and X4 recover out to 2 (X action).

Stevens - hedge if the screener is a pop guy, drop with a roller, don't let him get beneath you.

Ettore Messina (pdf)
- X1's stance is square until he hears the screen call by X5, then makes the ball go one way, top shoulder on 1's hip. X5 honours his feet, jumping to be on the side of the screen where X1 is sending the ball.
- If 5 flips the screen to change the angle late, X1 should roll (spin) under the screen.
- Do not use X4 as the primary helper on the roller, you will get killed by a pocket pass or a skip pass to 4. X2 is the first line of defence.
- Can switch if X gets cracked on the screen, switch on the second dribble after the screen, with restricted spacing.
- To go under a ballscreen, press into the ball (don't back away), then dart under.
- Prefers a "push" (flat) against a shooting 4-man, instead of hedging out.

Woodley - go under 3 out of 4 middle ballscreens.

1 skip passes to 2, re-set and repeat.


- 2 makes a DHO with 4 (a shooter), X4 trails right behind him, re-set.

- 4 skip passes to 1 in the wide slot, re-set.

- 5 sets a step-up screen, ice it (X1 goes over the screen, hard stance).

Seth Miller - go under a step-up ballscreen (the only time they go under).

- 1 throws back to 5 popping, X5 recovers.

Other progressions

- live when 4 comes off the DHO (he can skip it for the step-up screen), 16-second shot clock
- 5 starts on the block, sprints up to set the first ballscreen
- live on the first ballscreen.

c) Horns

Weak it most of the time.

Screener 4 pops, 5 dives.
Messina - elbow pick and roll -if the dribble is going to the sideline, the screen defender should step back towards the roller.

Reverse the ball to 2, 4 follows to ballscreen, ice it.

2 dribbles down, throws it back to 4, who kicks it across the top to 1 into a step-up screen.

Ice-to-veer - switch if 4 is a great shooter, X2 runs out to take away the 3-point shot.

Switch defensive likes, e.g. X3-X4, the Celtics have switching groups.

Woodley - go under a step-up screen 3 out of 4 times.

Variation - across the top into another sidescreen, see Defending - Celtics hedging.up

This page was made with Basketball playbook from Jes-Soft

2007-23 Eric Johannsen