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Made famous by John Stockton and Karl Malone, the pick-and-roll is one of the most compelling plays in basketball. The dynamic couple from Utah used the concept to perfection and achieved extraordinary results, including multiple trips to the NBA Finals. Among other accomplishments, Stockton became the NBA’s all-time assists leader, while Malone retired as the second-leading scorer in basketball history. The play was so devastating that opponents couldn’t stop it, even when they knew it was coming.

Players can learn a lot from Stockton and Malone and must pick-and-roll with the modern megastars in NBA Live 09. For the first time, EA Sports has allowed users to control both parts of the game, making it an efficient weapon against any adversary. The following tips will help you perfect the pick-and-roll game, giving you the edge when you step onto the court.

First, it’s important to understand how pick-and-roll works. The game begins with a player handling the ball being protected by a defender. The ball handler then dribbles to a teammate, who sets up the pick by getting in the defender’s way. This creates a difficulty for the defender, as he is forced to choose between chasing the ball handler or switching to the blocker. Additionally, whoever is defending the screener must help protect the ball handler, creating a multitude of options for the offense. This creates another potential advantage: if the defense chooses to switch, the shorter defender will defend the giant man, while the slower striker will get stuck in the quick guard.

While pick-and-roll is valuable in many situations, it can be maximized with the right personnel. The ball handler must be quick and must be able to take down the wide jumper. If the defense doesn’t respect the ball handler’s shot, it will block the lane and take away the preferred option of driving or throwing from the big man. For example, Steve Nash and Jose Calderon are great at running the play because both players can pass, drive or shoot after the pick is set.

Big men have more range when it comes to executing the pick-and-roll efficiently. Ideally, they should be athletic with the ease of finishing inside and shooting mid-range jumpers. Nash and Calderon can pair up with Amare Stoudamire and Chris Bosh, respectively, making a pair of the most dangerous tandems in the NBA. It’s important to be aware of your giant man’s strengths and direct traffic appropriately.

To run the pick-and-roll in NBA Live 09, hold Left Trigger (360) or L2 (PS3) to request a pick from your giant man. This is most efficient when the defense is too aggressive with the ball handler and the big man is left open. By holding the trigger down longer, your teammate will set up the screen and roll to the basket more conventionally. This option works when your screener is a good shooter and should create open chances.

Yes, it’s just one play, but the pick-and-roll can be used to make countless simple cubes. With the right staff and a little practice, you can hinder opponents and score when needed. Use one of the simplest plays in basketball to become the king of the court.

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