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So What Is A Box-And-One Defense Anyway?

by Julian Andrews
Web Editorial Associate Follow

While the Toronto Raptors weren't able to get the comback victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, they did have some late success on defense, thanks in part to a concept called the "box-and-one" defense. 

The ABC announcers gave the Raptors credit for digging deep into the playbook for this scheme, saying they'd never seen it used outside of college. It's true that the scheme isn't super common in the NBA, but for a team that has a ton of their firepower concentrated in one player (read, Steph Curry), it's an interesting look. 

Didn't immidiately know what a box-and-one was when you heard it on the broadcast? Don't worry, we got you.

A box-and-one defense is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. In it, four players on the defensive team play in zone with two players up and two players down (a box) and one player guards man-to-man on the opposing team's most potent scoring threat. In the Game 2, that meant that Fred VanVleet guarded Steph Curry while the other four Raptors were responsible for a designated area of the floor. Simple! Except for the guarding Curry part. That's not simple at all.

While the box-and-one didn't work out like the Raptors hoped this time, they might try it again in Game 3 given the success it had in slowing the Warriors down and helping Toronto fight its way back into the game. It'll be interesting to see if Toronto goes to it again, and if they do, how Golden State will adjust.

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