This page contains a number of specific half-court press-breaks. But it doesn't have to be that complicated. If you want an effective half-court press-break that applies to most half-court presses, see the "40" press-break in "80-60-40 Press-Breakers".
Teams will sometimes throw a half-court press at you, especially if they think your ball-handlers are inexperienced and subject to committing turnovers. Steals at half-court can result in easy transition lay-ups for the defense.
The half-court press trap can look very intimidating to the point guard bringing the ball up the floor, when he/she sees a wall of two or three defenders just waiting. So how do you counteract this defense?
First, with any half-court press, try to push the ball up the floor as quickly as possible and beat them before they get their defense set. Using a secondary break after the opponent scores is oftentimes effective. O5 quickly gets the ball out of the net, and passes in quickly to your point guard. Meanwhile O2 sprints up the right sideline and O3 sprints up the left sideline. Oftentimes, O1 can hit either O2 or O3 with the long pass for the lay-up. See: Secondary Break.But assuming the half court press is already set...
Keep in mind that this press is vulnerable to the pass up the sideline.
Diagram A. Have a player move up along each sideline (O3 and O4), at about the top of the key extended. Send one receiver deep to keep their X5 defender from cheating up. Your point guard should dribble to commit two defenders, and O2 should slide to the sideline outside the X2 defender. Just before the trap arrives, O1 passes to either O2, O4, or across to O3.
Diagram B. If the center defender shifts to cover the ball-side sideline (X3), then your opposite sideline player should slide to the middle spot vacated by the defender. O1 makes the pass to the center (in this case O4) and O4 should immediately take it to the hoop with the 2-on-1 situation with O5.If it is a 2-2-1 half-court press... Diagram C. Have your point guard attack the middle if possible and draw the two defenders who are waiting to trap him. Just before the trap arrives, he/she must make the pass to the open teammate. With a 2-2-1, have a tall receiver with good hands (your "tight end") set up in the middle between the two "second tier" defenders.
Another way to beat this press, is have O2 set an outside screen on the X2 defender and O1 can dribble around the screen up the right sideline. The X4 defender may slide over to stop him, but O1 should be able to make the quick pass into the corner to O5, and then O5 and O3 have a 2-on-1 situation with their X5 defender.If is a 3-2 half-court zone press... (Diagram D). .. with three defenders across the center line, and two at the top of the key, again have your "tight end" in the middle (O4) and one of your wings along the ball-side sideline. Send one tall, good receiver down deep, to the hoop. If the two back defenders cheat toward outside, you may find your deep receiver wide open for the "over the top" pass to the hoop.
For example, if the pass goes to the right... either O2 or O4 should be open for the pass (Diagram B). If the X4 defender cheats up and covers O2, then O4 should be wide open in the corner for the pass. Then O5 cuts to the paint for the pass from O4 and the lay-up. You can run the same thing on the opposite side using O3 and O5 as receivers.
If the X3 defender cheats toward the ball-side, you can bring O3 into the middle for the pass.
By using this setup, O1 is occupying two defenders, their X3 is really covering no-one, and their X4 and X5 have to try to cover two players at the same time.Your point guard has to learn to keep his head up, see the floor, be patient, stay calm and find the open teammate with a good quick pass, just before the trap gets to him. Teach him/her to avoid dribbling between two or three defenders, but stay patient and make the good pass. You should work on this in practice.
Have O1 dribble a little toward one side to try to get the point defender and the zone to commit to that side. O1 can make the pass over-the-top of the zone up the sideline, or can quickly make the reverse pass to the opposite guard who is still behind (neither have crossed the 10-second line yet).
Now O2 can look for the pass up his sideline, or dribble penetrate if the zone is shifted out of position. They may try to trap here so he/she needs to learn to pass up the side quickly before the trap arrives.
There might even be an occasion when the player with the ball on the side may have to make the deep, skip pass to the opposite corner, which should always be open... just make sure you've got someone who can accurately make that pass, and with some zip on the pass... no floaters please!
You can also screen the deep zone defender... pin the defender so he/she can't move to either the sideline or down low. Then cut your opposite deep corner player to the ball-side for the pass and layup. This screen and cut must be done quickly... before O2 gets trapped. The cutter should be in position almost as O2 gets the ball.
O3 and O4 get deep up the sidelines. Have O5 get in the middle of the zone on the same side as the guard who does not have the ball (the intended receiver of the first pass O2). He/she can screen and get ball-side position on the middle defender (see diagram).
You can also screen and pin the deep zone defender so he/she can't move to either the sideline or down low. Then cut your opposite deep corner player to the ball-side for the pass and layup. This screen and cut must be done quickly... before O2 gets trapped. The cutter should be in position almost as O2 gets the ball, so the pass can be made quickly before the trap arrives (see the diagrams below).
One last tip...
If your point guard is small and having difficulty getting his/her passes intercepted by the taller defenders, try this. Have one of your taller players (who is a good passer), stay back with your point guard in the back-court, and along one of the sidelines.
Just before the point guard reaches the half court line, he/she passes sideways to his taller teammate who makes the quick pass up the floor. Encourage this post player to pass and not attempt to dribble (especially is he/she is not accustomed to dribbling in the open court).