In basketball, small ball is a style of play that sacrifices height, physical strength and low post offense/defense in favor of a lineup of smaller players for speed, agility and increased scoring (often from the three-point line).It is closely tied to the concepts of pace and space, which pushes the speed of the offense and spreads out the defense with extra shooters on the court. Many small ball lineups feature a non-traditional center who offers skills that are not normally found from players at that position. Teams often move a physically dominant player who would typically play the small forward position into the power forward position. Examples of players who have been used in this role include Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, and LeBron James. That individual would play alongside either a traditional power forward (shifted into the center position), or alongside a center.
The advantage of using small ball is that the power forward position is occupied by a faster, more agile player who can outrun and outmaneuver the opposing power forward. In many cases the player may have a better three-point shooting percentage than a traditional power forward, which (as well as increasing points from three-point plays) can help spread the opposition defense. The opposing defender will come out to mark the player on the perimeter of the three point line, allowing space for teammates to run in and score around the basket. A player occupying this position, with a high three-point shot success percentage, is coined a "stretch 4".Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra employed this style of play starting in 2011–12, labeling it as "pace and space". Early in the playoffs, small forward LeBron James filled in at power forward after the Heat lost starter Chris Bosh to injury. James remained at that position for the remainder of the playoffs, as Bosh was moved to center when he returned.
While the style of play does have advantages, there are several disadvantages. The addition of speed and agility comes at the cost of strength and height; the lack of traditional "big men" can make it more difficult to guard the space under the basket while on defense and can also prevent the team from having a low-post offensive threat when attacking. Rebounding is often sacrificed; for example, in the 2012–13 season, the Miami Heat, playing small ball, had the most wins during the season, but were the worst team in the NBA in rebounding.
The Golden State Warriors in 2014–15 used small ball to a greater extent in the NBA Finals than any prior champion, swapping out big man Andrew Bogut from the starting lineup for Andre Iguodala, who would eventually be named the Finals MVP.The Warriors small lineup came to be known as the Death Lineup. The Warriors have attained a historic level of success, winning three NBA titles and setting the NBA wins record during the period from 2014-2017. The success of the Warriors' small ball lineups has caused some analysts to consider small ball to be the future of basketball, eschewing traditional lineups in favor of a brand of "positionless" basketball that allows teams to play small.
LeBron Raymone James Sr. is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is widely considered to be one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history, and discussions ranking him as the greatest basketball player of all time have often been subject to significant debate, with frequent comparisons to Michael Jordan. James's teams have played in eight consecutive NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers. His accomplishments include three NBA championships, four NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, three Finals MVP Awards, and two Olympic gold medals. James holds the all-time record for playoffs points, is third in all-time points, and eighth in all-time assists. James was selected to the All-NBA First Team twelve times, made the All-Defensive First Team five times, and has played in sixteen All-Star Games, in which he was selected All-Star MVP three times.
The power forward (PF), also known as the four, is one of the five positions in a regulation basketball game. Power forwards play a role similar to that of center. They typically play offensively with their backs towards the basket and position themselves defensively under the basket in a zone defense or against the opposing power forward in man-to-man defense. The power forward position entails a variety of responsibilities, one of which is rebounding. Many power forwards are noted for their mid-range jump-shot, and several players have become very accurate from 12 to 18 feet. Earlier, these skills were more typically exhibited in the European style of play. Some power forwards, known as stretch fours, have since extended their shooting range to three-point field goals.
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The center (C), also known as the five position, or the big man, is one of the five positions in a basketball game. The center is normally the tallest player on the team, and often has a great deal of strength and body mass as well. In the NBA, the center is usually 6 feet 10 inches (2.08 m) or taller and usually weighs 240 pounds (110 kg) or more. They traditionally have played close to the basket in the low post.
Point forward is a nontraditional position in basketball, with a small forward—or sometimes a power forward or combo forward—adding the responsibilities of point guard to their play.
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A tweener in basketball is a term, sometimes used derisively, for a player who is able to play two positions, but is not ideally suited to play either position exclusively, so he/she is said to be in between. A tweener has a set of skills that do not match the traditional position of his physical stature.
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Nellie Ball is an offensive strategy in basketball developed by NBA head coach Don "Nellie" Nelson. It is a fast-paced run-and-gun offense relying on smaller, more athletic players who can create mismatches by outrunning their opponents. A true center is usually not needed to run this type of offense. A large volume of three-point attempts is also a feature of Nellie Ball. This offense is most effective against teams that do not have the athleticism or shooting ability to keep up with the fast pace.
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In basketball, a stretch four (sometimes called a stretch big) is a player at the power forward position that can generate offense farther from the basket than a conventional power forward. "Stretch" describes the effect such a player has on the opposition defense, and the power forward position is also known as the "four"; hence "stretch four". The stretch four is a fairly recent innovation in the NBA, but is still becoming increasingly common in today's game, as many NBA coaches now use the "small-ball" line-up/tactical play.
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The 2015 NBA Finals was the championship series of the 2014–15 season of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors defeated the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers in six games (4–2) for the Warriors' first title in 40 years and their fourth in franchise history, becoming the first team since the 1990–91 Chicago Bulls to win a championship without any prior Finals experience from any player on their roster. Golden State's Andre Iguodala was named the Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP).
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