There are a couple of related items on TrueHoop from two smart basketball minds. The first is from David Thorpe's Game Six preview/breakdown, specifically on Vlad Radmanovic's lousy defensive "starting position" against Paul Pierce in Game Five:
"Inexcusably, Radmanovic often approached Pierce standing straight up, not crouched in a defensive stance, giving him the green light to roast Radmanovic and get into the teeth of the defense. "Starting position" is preached hard to good defensive teams. Watch Boston to see the importance of this defensive strategy -- both in terms of individual stance and team positioning. If L.A. can make a major improvement in this area for Game 6, its defense should provide a tougher obstacle for Pierce."
The second item is from Coach Anthony Macri on BP:
Early in the offense, prior to settling into the Triangle, the Lakers should look to ball-screen action. When they get tentative and their offense stagnates, Los Angeles looks for ball screens late in the shot clock. This only brings a second defender toward the attacking offensive player, typically Kobe Bryant. However, by bringing the ball screen early in transition offense, the Lakers can attack prior to Boston prepping any of their trapping or hard-hedge tactics. In fact, in many cases, they might force a switch, which would lead to Bryant attacking the rim.
There are nights when I'm watching an NBA game and it seems like each team leaves anywhere from 5-10 quality-look FGAs on the table, merely because they don't take advantage of a narrow window of opportunity early in the possession before the defense gets set. It's not about being a seven-seconds-or-less squad or "running more" in service of more offense, or even launching a PUJIT. I'm talking about halfcourt sets out of which strange, aberrational opportunities surface. The goal of a halfcourt set is to achieve the best shot possible. And sometimes, against design, a look emerges by sheer glitch or good fortune. So not to set up a S/R early because that's not the way you like to do things -- even though there's leverage to be exploited -- is stubborn. And sometimes it's as simple as putting a set in motion without deliberation the instant the 1 hits his starting block. Being more creative on offense isn't always so much a case of needing to draw up all sorts of different stuff. It's just a matter of employing a schematic stutter-step; you can run the same set...just run it at a varying pace. Defenses are reactive by their very nature. And like all systems, defenses take time to adjust to change. For the offense, there's a nanosecond window between the moment a defense recognizes that an offense has switched things up and the moment a defense concludes it has to do something about it.
The same goes for defensive ball pressure. If the other team decides to run the point through a guard without ballhandling credentials, you're silly for not pressuring and shaving a good 3-5 seconds off the possession. I'm not saying you have to gamble with a high-risk/high-reward perimeter trap, but you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.