There are literally hundreds of basketball game situations that your team could encounter throughout a basketball season. There is no greater pain as a coach than losing a basketball game because you didn’t have a plan of attack in a crucial situation.

Rather than making crucial decisions on the fly, you should have a philosophy for almost all basketball game situations you will encounter during a game.

Listed below are several situations that you should have a plan for when your team takes the floor each game.

The score is tied, your team has the ball with a minute left.

Ways to approach this situation:

  • Take the best available shot.
  • Continue running your normal offense.
  • Hold for one shot.
  • If you don’t get a good shot by a certain point, pull it out and hold for one.

The score is tied, your team is on defense with a minute left.

Ways to approach this situation:

  • Pressure the offense, hoping to turn them over.
  • Sit back and let them hold for one.
  • Change your defense.

You are trailing by 1-2 points, it’s your ball with a minute left.

Ways to approach this situation:

  • Run a quick hitter for a quick score
  • Run the clock down and take the last shot
  • Take a shot with 5-10 seconds left so you have the opportunity for a rebound

You are ahead by 3 points, it’s your opponent’s ball with 10 seconds left

Ways to approach this situation:

  • Play solid defense and have confidence that your defense will get a stop
  • Foul the opponent with around 5 seconds left, forcing them to the foul line.
    • Your players must know not to foul when the opponent is in the act of shooting

Your opponent just scored the go ahead bucket with 10 seconds left

Ways to approach this situation:

  • Take the ball out quickly and attack the defense in transition
  • Call a timeout immediately
  • Get the ball to half court and then call a timeout

Your opponent has the ball, they are up by 2-3 with 10 seconds left

Ways to approach this situation:

  • Foul immediately when the ball is thrown in
  • Try for a hard trap and a steal before fouling
  • Double-team the opponent’s best foul-shooter so they don’t get the ball

Your opponent has the ball, you have the lead by 1-3 points with 2 seconds left.

Ways to approach this situation:

  • Pressure the inbounder so that he doesn’t get a clean look for a pass
  • Don’t guard the inbounder and cover the first player to pop open

You have the ball, down by 3 with 1 minute left.

Ways to approach this situation:

  • Look to score a two-pointer quickly
    • Then foul immediately
    • Then play solid defense until a certain point, then foul
  • Run plays for a 3-point shot

Some other situations you need to be prepared for & your players need to know your stance on are:

  • Down 10 with 3 minutes to go
  • Down 5 with 1 minute to go
  • Do you save a loose ball under the basket you’re defending?
  • Fouling when you have fouls to give
  • How do you defend BLOB?
  • Inbounds plays for the dead corner
  • How to guard a 2-on-1 situation
  • Who shoots the technical foul free throws?
  • How much time before you want the last shot at the end of quarters?
  • Playing defense after a missed free throw
  • How to line up on a jump ball
  • Only shooting a layup when trying to milk the clock
  • Do you force the offense to the middle or the sideline?
  • No timeouts remaining when trailing in the last minute
  • Your best player is in foul trouble
  • Missing a free throw on purpose with a lead
  • Missing a free throw on purpose when trailing
  • Best player is injured
  • Defending the last shot when the score is tied

Again, there are so many situations that can happen in a basketball game. The more you have your team prepared for them, the better off they will be.

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