If you’ve been following any of my post-game Twitter threads lately, you’ll notice me shouting out the “blind pig” action at least once per game, attributing it to one of my favorite actions, Boston Celtics It has been running in recent weeks.
But what is a “blind pig”? Well, I can’t tell you why she has such an odd name, but we can look at what the play is and why she’s been doing so well for the Celtics when we’re looking to land one of the best scorers in the space.
The desired outcome of this procedure is simple, get one of the best attacking space strikers behind the defense by cutting through the back door. It is often used when the defense is playing hard pressure off the ball and/or looking to block cut-outs from the wing or hole area of the field. or. When the defense turns down a pass to a top scorer on the perimeter – think Jason Tatum or Jaylen Brown.
The work itself is simple. The game involves 3 players: Player A (the handler of the ball), Player B (the man in the middle, usually a senior), and Player C (the cutter/designer).
Since Player A has possession of the ball, Player B will flash/cut the middle, usually toward the nail, to receive a pass. While this is happening, Player C will pull away from the defender by taking a step or two away from the action, causing his man to expect a screen or Player A to go past the big and pass directly to Player C.
Instead, when Player B receives the ball, Player C will explode in pieces, surprise the defender, and receive a pass from the big guy to launch it open into the lane.
against the Charlotte Hornets On January 16th we saw the Celtics run a variation of this play to give Jayson Tatum room to finish the drive in the straight at the rim. Here, we have Marcus Smart as coach of the ball, Jason Tatum swinging towards the wing selling his defender on an imminent pass from Smart.
However, Smart Robert Williams feeds in the pass, allowing Tatum to spin and launch into the lane for a quick entry from Williams, resulting in two easy points. Another reason why this action works so well is that it happens in the blink of an eye, making it very difficult for any assisted defenders to recognize what is happening and react accordingly.
In true Joe Mazzulla fashion, we’ve also seen the Celtics get creative when running this action by placing a guard in the middle to throw defenses off the scent of an impending “blind pig.”
The principles remain the same, but the intelligent presence in the middle makes it difficult for the defense to see what will happen, especially as he is a key ball-handling player on the team. Again, quick nail entry, side wing rear cut, dump lane and easy bucket in space.
Here is another example.
Love this “blind pig” action from Boston to get Tatum in the open lane.
NOLA does a strong job defending Spain’s entry, and C gets no advantage.
Cornette cuts to the elbow, entry pass from Brogdon, cut from JT, dump, dunk. Love her pic.twitter.com/NKHHkUq1Zz
– Adam Taylor (AdamTaylorNBA) January 12, 2023
The Celtics aren’t breaking any new ground when playing this action – they’ve been around for a very long time. However, by diversifying who they put in the middle and which player they use as a cut-off (they used Robert Williams there too), they make life difficult for opposing defenses and reap the rewards as a result.
I have no idea why it’s called the “blind pig,” but the results speak for themselves, and hopefully, the Celtics can continue to ignite teams with this action whenever they need an easy bucket to build or regain some offensive momentum.