The hi-lo is one of the most complex sets in basketball. On the surface, it looks like a simple pass between two big men, but it needs perfect timing and chemistry. Lately, the Orlando Magic have been running an interesting iteration of the hi-lo. Let’s go through it step-by-step.
Things begin with a guard handling the ball at the top and a wing coming off a big man’s down pick. While this initial action may be inconsequential towards the final result of this play, it’s movements like these that make good offense’s great.
The San Antonio Spurs are constantly running Tony Parker around screens, just to use him in a simple pick-and-roll. Constantly having to fight through screens can take a toll on defenders as the game wears on and when the fourth quarter comes, mere inches of space can mean everything.
The wing and big then transition into a side pick-and-roll. Another reason for the down pick is to keep the defense off-balance so that they can’t set up their side pick-and-roll defense. This involves the defending wing taking an extreme angle and not letting the pick-and-roll ball handler use the screen. As the pick-and-roll is being run, a weak-side big man runs along the baseline and ducks into the post.
The opposite big man receives the ball and immediately hits the roller on a bounce pass. The roller’s defender is behind — his responsibility is to hedge so that the ball handler doesn’t have a direct lane to the basket. If the weak-side defender rotates over and leaves his man in the corner, Nikola Vucevic can hit him for a wide open corner three.
Here are two examples of it being run:
The two most likely outcomes are a dunk and corner three, which correlates perfectly with the two best shots in basketball. What more could you want?