Caution: No Entry
The Sonics—here, Nate McMillan (10), the NBA steal leader with 2.96 per game—not only apply pressure to the point guard on the perimeter (in this case, L.A. Laker Tony Smith) but also deny entry passes to the wings by playing aggressive D near the foul line. As the 24-second clock ticks down, the longer it takes the other team to make that first pass, and the better Seattle's chances of forcing a bad shot.
Classic post defense is demonstrated by Shawn Kemp (left) and Sam Perkins as they double-team the Lakers' Elden Campbell (with ball) near the basket—and also block Campbell's view of the open man, Doug Christie (8). Notice, too, that Seattle's three other defenders are "opening up" to see both the ball and a potential cutter.
Drawing A Crowd
All five Seattle defenders have placed themselves in the lane to smother both Reggie Jordan (with the ball) and two other potential Laker scorers near the basket, Kurt Rambis (with glasses) and George Lynch. And even if Jordan is able to skip a pass to either of his two teammates outside the lane, the Sonics are in perfect position to recover.
One of the most lethal features of the Sonics" defense is that it can turn into sudden attack, as it does here with Detlef Schrempf handling the ball on the fast break in the wake of a Laker turnover. Already Schrempf is looking upcourt while teammates Ervin Johnson (right) and Sam Perkins run with him.
JOHN W. McDONOUGH