Stan Van Gundy’s tactical genius on display | Magic Basketball



Jan 02

Stan Van Gundy’s tactical genius on display

If there’s one thing that’ll never change for the Orlando Magic under head coach Stan Van Gundy, regardless of the talent on the floor, it’s the coaching. Van Gundy is one of the best coaches in the NBA for many reasons, but one of them is his ability to draw up the perfect play coming out of a timeout. Perhaps Van Gundy’s most infamous play that he drew up came in the 2009 NBA Finals when he was able to create an alley-oop layup opportunity for Courtney Lee out of thin air. Lee missed the layup, yes, but it exemplified Van Gundy’s coaching genius. On Sunday, the Toronto Raptors saw that genius firsthand.

As the Magic propelled themselves to the lead in the fourth quarter thanks to a 20-2 scoring run after trailing by 11 points to begin the period, certain plays were ran to perfection that aided in the surge. One of them is a play called out of a timeout after Orlando began to chip away at their deficit. The score was 89-83 in favor of the Raptors with a little less than six minutes remaining in the game and with Hedo Turkoglu leading the comeback charge, Van Gundy wisely put the basketball in his hands and let him be a playmaker.


What’s fascinating about this particular play is that it’s an amalgamation of certain elements in the Magic’s offensive playbook. Orlando initially sets themselves up in a Horns set, with Turkoglu and Dwight Howard standing at the elbows of the free-throw line. Orlando runs a myriad of play variations in the Horns set. This variation is unique because instead of Ryan Anderson standing at the elbow adjacent to Howard, it’s Turkoglu. And instead of Anderson handing off the ball to a wing player on his half of the court, thus initiating the action on the play, it’s Turkoglu that’s going to run a 3/5 pick-and-roll with Howard.

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At this point, Howard sets the screen and the fun begins. DeMar DeRozan decides to go over the screen and trail Turkoglu while Amir Johnson sags off and accounts for Howard rolling to the paint. While this is happening, Leandro Barbosa helps on Howard while Johnson recovers. In the process, J.J. Redick creeps over towards the middle of the floor. The spacing, as always, is excellent for the Magic. Jameer Nelson and Anderson merely serve as placeholders on the initial setup of the play while Turkoglu surveys the court. Turkoglu could go about this play in a number of different ways but it’s clear he’s looking for Redick.


Redick receives the basketball after Turkoglu and Howard ran a 3/5 pick-and-roll. Notice Barbosa? Because Barbosa instinctively helps on Howard as Johnson recovered to the lane, Redick is getting plenty of room to not only catch the ball but to shoot it right away. It’s a classic catch-and-shoot opportunity for Redick and he makes Toronto pay with a three-pointer. To sum it up, Van Gundy elected to run a play that started out in a Horns set but ultimately produced a 3/5 pick-and-roll (which is Orlando’s favorite play to run) with Turkoglu and Howard that generated a clean look for a Redick three-pointer.


Like a chess player, Van Gundy made all the right moves in the fourth quarter against head coach Dwane Casey and checkmated the Raptors. It certainly helps Van Gundy’s cause that he has smart players that can execute plays to perfection when it’s needed.

UPDATE: It should be noted that Redick flashing to the top of the arc was suggested by Howard and implemented in the play drawn up by Van Gundy.

Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.


I believe this is a play Dwight spoke about particularly after the game. Howard said, Van Gundy drew the play up and he suggested to Van Gundy that Redick pop up to the top of the key for an open 3-pointer. Van Gundy agreed and Redick executed it perfectly.