Boston Celtics ATOs: Hammer Sets
A deeper look into the Boston Celtics playbook and their Hammer Sets - currently the NBA's best After Time Out team.
The eighth and final part of the focus on the Celtics After Time Out playbook is going to be their Hammer Sets. Just like football, basketball coaches like to put together a series of plays out of the same formation to disguise and surprise the defense.
The Hammer play’s origin is traced back to Darvin Ham when he played for the Bucks and randomly spun out of the post and hit a player in the opposite corner for a 3.
I still have not located the original or first Hammer play, but the actual Hammer play as it is termed currently with a weakside screen on the baseline to the corner really didn’t develop from the Spurs until around 2009-10. It has grown in popularity over the last 8-10 years and even though teams know it is coming, the Hammer action is one of the hardest actions to guard.
When the Hammer screen is set the reason it works so well is it takes advantage of good defensive systems and players who pay attention to the main action. Weakside defenders are typically helping low as the big’s main defender and the guard opposite helping near the lane or at least cheating toward strongside.
Once the drive baseline occurs the low man is the help defender and his helper sags on the big so when the screen occurs help is nowhere to be found.
Delay Under Ghost Hammer
In the Delay Series breakdown, we looked at the basic Delay Under action where a guard passes to a wing in the middle of the floor and set a quick ghost ballscreen to try and get a drive downhill.
They then add on to this action with a Hammer screen for the guard on the Wing as the drive in the middle occurs.
We can see here that Jalen Smith is staring at the slot drive so even though the Suns recognize and switch the initial action the Hammer screen is wide open because Shamet and Smith are both ready to help on the drive instead of the Hammer screen.
Pistol 4 Double Hammer
Ime Udoka has possibly the most creative Hammer set I have seen executed this season, disguising this double hammer with great initial action.
It starts off with hitting Tatum around the elbow or what could look like Pistol/21 action and Pritchard coming off a stagger screen - all decoy action. Tatum does a great job selling like he is looking for the stagger before spinning back to Schroder.
Tatum hits Schroder on the wing and then fakes like he is going to set a ballscreen for him to setup the reject. Once Schroder rejects this Pritchard then comes off a double hammer screen so even when Cedi recognizes the Hammer action and tries to recover navigating both screens allows the open corner 3.
Zip Punch Hammer
A classic San Antonio Spurs set out of their Zipper series in which they would have a player come off a zipper screen and then go into a post up - Punch is a common term for a post up.
Off of this post up the player spins baseline and throws the Hammer pass for a corner 3.
Floppy Punch Hammer
Another set stolen directly from the Spurs, running floppy action into the same post up for a Hammer.
The Wizards cover it here so when running this the offense needs to be able to be ok with that player going into a post-up.
Cross Elevator Fan Hammer
This is probably the weirdest Hammer setup with Hernangomez running the ballscreen, but I like the creativity of it. This is set up with a cross-screen into an elevator screen.
The elbow then fans out to the wing and sets up the reject into a hammer screen, the Lakers stay at home on it then it results in a post-up.
This is part 8 of an 8 part series looking at all of the Celtics After Time Out plays in the series they run with them - if you want to support please subscribe and share with others!