Now that I've focused on the defensive side of the ball, it's time to focus on some offensive strategies that will keep you competitive against even the best of teams, CPU and human alike. As with defense, Live 09's offensive game is tricky to master. From the Quickstrike moves, to the Ankle Breakers, to the pick and roll control, Live 09 has enough depth on the offensive end to keep you practicing for weeks. There are many ways to run an efficient offense in the game, so I thought I would put forth my top four strategies.
1. Visit the NBA Academy's Offensive Stations
I know what you're thinking: "Isn't that the same first tip that you had in your defensive article?" Yes it is! The reason I am doubling up on this strategy is because of how important a strategy it is. I can not even tell you how many players will struggle with offense, complain that there is something wrong with the game, and not spend one iota of time in the extremely helpful academy. In the Academy you will learn the basics of every offensive strategy in the game. Granted the stations are quick overviews of each strategy, and you aren't in a true game situation, but the stations show you how to properly utilize all of the weapons at your disposal.
If you are struggling to score in this game, or you are having trouble grasping the concepts of Quickstrike moves, Ankle Breakers, or pick and roll control, stop reading this article right now and get to work in the NBA Academy.
2. Learn How To Use and Chain the Quickstrike Moves
The NBA is about isolation and dribble penetration, and no basketball video game has ever conveyed this better than Live 09. You have a plethora of different dribble moves and animations that you can chain together by learning controller motions with the right analog stick. The system is incredibly simple to pull off, but extremely deep when executed. The most important thing to know about your dribble moves is that there is a different crossover/move to counter anything the defense can throw at you. For a quick reference on the move set, I recommend watching these two videos (one, two) contributed by Da_Czar.
As you can see in Czar's videos, you have your basic Quickstrike crossovers, and your more pronounced Ankle Breakers. Experiment with these moves not only in the practice gym but also in the Academy’s (I mentioned it again!) full-team practice mode. Learning which move to use and when to use it is critical to offensive success and dribble penetration (think Chris Paul kicking it out to Peja for a 3-pointer). These moves are also handy when a defender locks you down, or you are trying to break a double team. The better you become at using these moves -- along with chaining multiple moves in succession -- the more space and imagination your offense is going to have.
Use quick strike moves to drive the lane.
3. Learn Your Team's Playbook
I'll admit it; I am one of those guys that hates running set plays in basketball video games. For some reason though, I love running plays in Live 09. I don't know if it's the fact that play calling is super easy due to the control interface, or if it's the fact that running plays actually works based on your team's strengths? Regardless, play-calling is a blast in this game.
Make sure you take a few minutes to review your team’s plays in the pause menu. Not only will this give you an idea of how a play will develop, but you can also select the plays you want to use on a game-by-game situation. I've found that while using my beloved Pistons, I will map some quick screens to get Rip Hamilton open, or post Sheed up down low. When I play a quicker team with big men down low (like Phoenix), I will switch to a more perimeter-oriented offense. It's pretty important on the higher difficulties to know your players' strengths, know how your plays will unfold, and know when to use a specific play. Is it critical to offensive success? No. However, you will get better spacing on the court and also confuse the defense, leading to easy layups, dunks, and 3-point attempts.
4. Know How To Use Pick and Roll Control
Perhaps the simplest new feature to use, yet the most complex to master, is the pick and roll control. Make sure you practice this technique in the Academy (again!) and know your team’s strengths/weaknesses before abusing this feature. For those who are simply too lazy to go into the Academy, the pick and roll control allows you to set a pick with a player, and then either have that man head down low off the pick, or roll off the pick and head to the perimeter -- this is all controlled by the length of time you hold the pick and roll button down. It's probably one of the best features in a video game hoops title that I've experienced; and as simple as it sounds, it adds a tremendous amount of depth to the offensive side of the ball in NBA Live 09.
To be successful using pick and roll control, you need to know the strengths of the player with the ball, and the strengths of the man about to set the pick for your player. For example, as the Pistons I love using pick and roll with Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace. As you all know, Sheed is more of a perimeter big man, who can also play in the post. This allows me to have Sheed either head down low or head to the perimeter for a three if I penetrate with Chauncey. If I were to run this same scenario with Kwame Brown instead of Sheed, I would be forced to send Kwame down low. You have to really think ahead before you call for the pick and roll, and then be quick on the buttons when the pick arrives. If you notice that the ball handler calling for the pick is being double teamed, leaving the picker wide open, fire the rock over to him ASAP. If the double team does not happen and you have a good perimeter shooter as the picker, fire the ball to him also. Anticipate your next move and have a plan if that move fails -- remember you can always kick the ball out and reset your offense.
The pick and roll isn't a guaranteed way to score points on the higher difficulties, and there will be times when the CPU picks up your tendencies and shuts you down. Just know that the pick and roll will free up some offense and open up the lanes for easy buckets when a defense clamps down on you.
Simply playing offense in Live 09 isn't necessarily the toughest aspect of the game, but mastering all the different options available is. The game has offensive depth that I haven't seen in a basketball game in quite a while. Live 09 is the type of game that is easy to get into, and provides countless offensive possibilities to play around with. The overall flow of the offense is simply outstanding, and deciding on which Anklebreaker moves to use on a defender, only to call for a pick and then kick the ball out for a wide open 3-pointer, is simply one of the most gratifying moments this hoops gamer has ever experienced.
As always add your own tips to this article, and let's get this stickied in the Live 09 forum if enough quality banter arises.