Zone 2-3 Defense
The 2-3 zone defense has the advantage of protecting the inside, the “paint”, and keeps your “bigs” inside. It’s weakness is that it can be beaten by good outside shooting, with open areas on the wings, point and high post. Read “Zone Defense” for detailed tips on playing zone defense, and Zone Rebounding for tips on rebounding out of the zone.
A critical point
When the ball moves into the corner and the X4 defender moves out to cover the ball, it is imperative that the X5 defender slides over immediately into the low block vacated by X4. If X5 does not get there in time, the offense may get an easy pass into the low block, and a lay-up.
Study the diagrams below to understand the how the zone shifts, or moves.
Pass into the high post.
See Diagram E. Have your X5 defender come up to defend this (like a 2-1-2 zone now). But watch out for the underneath cutter in the paint. Your X3 and X4 defenders may have to cheat into the paint when X5 moves high.
Defending the point.
Defending the point is always problematic. If you know that their O2 guard is their best shooter, then have X1 defend the point at first and allow X2 to sag toward their good shooter. And just the opposite applies if O3 is their best shooter. At first you may decide to defend the point loosely, but if their O1 starts hitting some shots, you’ve got to get pressure there. Never let their point split the X1 and X2 defenders and dribble penetrate the middle. X1 and X2 may really have to move quickly and work hard, and work together in order to cover the point and both wings.
On ball reversal (diagram F), sometimes it helps if the low defender on the ballside comes out when the pass goes to the wing, but then drops back down once the outside defenders have rotated over to the ball.
Players often think playing a 2-3 zone defense is easier than man defense, but in fact, to play good zone defense, you may have to work much harder to be effective.
Covering the Skip Pass
It depends if you have double-teamed the corner as in Diagram C, or are covering the corner as in Diagram D.
In the usual single-coverage (Diagram D), a skip pass from the corner to the point or to the opposite wing is covered by the opposite outside defender. For example, if the ball is passed from the right corner to either the point or left wing, then X1 should cover the receiver as the zone shifts into position (see Diagram F). Sometimes, a quick athletic X3 can anticipate the skip pass, jump out and intercept it and go for a lay-up.
If you have double-teamed the corner (Diagram C), a long effective skip pass is less likely, but in this case would be covered as follows (see Diagram G):
1. Pass from right corner to left corner or wing… cover this with X3 defender.
2. Pass from right corner to point… cover the receiver with X1.