It has been a good while now, and the verdicts are in. Some say that NBA 2K9 is the best representation of video game basketball ever, while others say it is far from that. Either way, many feel that it is entirely too easy to score (and get scored on). Slider tweaks may fix some of the high percentages in this game, but still, sliders should not be used as a crutch to substitute for bad defense. If your defense isn’t strong, changing the sliders will not help you. So I’ve devised a few pointers to help you out:
Defensive Pressure and Matchups
Far too often, a user is getting beat to the punch, so he or she thinks it's a bright idea to play tight coverage on everyone. Cheese tactics like this don’t work in this game. If you have a poor defensive team like the Knicks, the players won’t be able to stay in front of a snail, let alone a NBA player. Using tight coverage incorrectly will allow the opposition to drive right past you. Tight coverage should be reserved for spot-up shooters (think Kyle Korver and Jason Kapono).
If you are playing defense against a poor shooter with good handles (Rajon Rondo), sag off of him. If he takes the jump shot, that’s better than him driving to the hole. Most importantly, he will be forced to give up the ball, because you’ve stamped out his greatest strength, which is driving to the cup for the layup or simply forcing the defense to collapse and kick it out to an open man. Sagging off your man also cuts down on some of the backdoor passes the CPU likes to use.
Playing against superstars is a Catch-22 because they can kill you in so many ways. You sag off, they will hit the J. If you play them tight, they will drive in for the dunk. What you want to do is use the medium lock-on D, and make sure your best defender is guarding them. NBA 2K9 has actually taken a page from College Hoops series because now you can assign a primary defender to an opposing player. No longer will Bruce Bowen guard Luke Walton if Kobe switches to the small forward position. Bowen will now guard Kobe for the duration of the game, granted they are both on the court. Make sure your defender plays the same or similar position, though; it won’t quite work if your best defender is a center and you’re trying to guard Allen Iverson.
Next, don’t go for the double team too early. Make the superstar prove he can score on you. If he does, then it’s time to analyze whether or not he should be double teamed. If he doesn’t have any complimentary scorers, then yeah, it’s easy to choose the double team option. However, if he has a team of 3-point shooters or a main secondary scorer, that makes the choice more difficult.
First, you want to analyze how he has been scoring his points. If he has been hitting difficult shots, I would live with that rather than him getting his other guys involved. If he’s been doing whatever he wants out there, then it's time to double him and let those other guys beat you.
The term 'defense wins championships' still means something on the hardwood.
Learn the Controls
I touched on lock-on defense earlier, but it's not the way you may remember it from NBA 2K8. Lock-on D is not nearly as strong, so it can't be used as a crutch for bad defense. Think of it as a tool and not a vital part of gameplay. The way I use it is mainly to guard the player I want to guard, especially when a switch-off occurs. Also, with the new shading feature, I will shade to the right or left, depending on where my help defense is, to hopefully force my opponent into a difficult shot.
Playing defense in the post may seem difficult, but it’s not impossible. In order to prevent tons of points in the paint, make sure you push the post player out the paint before he catches it. This can be done by engaging with that player and pressing the L-stick towards the player. If the post player does catch the ball, you can still press the L-stick to keep your guy from getting backed down; this all depends on your post defense and strength rating. If players are getting too deep in the paint, you can always foul. It's always better to force them to shoot some free throws when the other option is being posterized.
Also, avoid the block-happy temptation that courses through your veins. Everyone wants to block every single shot, but that's not going to happen. Sometimes, you will have to go for the steal against unstoppable power-dunk artists like Shaq, Amare and Dwight. If you are getting posted up, time the steal at the right time, and you will actually poke the ball away, which works with the same effectiveness as a block.
Of course, if you are severely mismatched in the post, there is always the double team option.
If you are playing against someone who likes to use Isomotion a lot, make sure you attempt to draw some charges. For one, it will force a turnover, but more importantly, he or she is probably abusing Isomotion controls with a superstar player, so if that player is in foul trouble, he’s one less player to worry about.
Blocking shots is an imperative part of defense. It is much easier to block shots this year, but don’t abuse it or you could get called for a foul -- or be caught completely out of position on a head fake. Another beautiful thing about the blocked shot is sometimes you will get called for a foul (I believe in the philosophy of "no layups allowed." If you are trailing on a play and the other guy has what he thinks is an easy layup, foul him and put him on the line. You can also press the steal button for a ball strip in this situation.
Sometimes defense can be less about forcing turnovers and more about simply controlling the tempo. If you are not having a good start and the other team has been running you up and down the court, do not fall into the trap. Slow down the tempo.
Give yourself a chance to get some sure buckets so you can set up your defense to prevent the other team from scoring. If you shoot the ball too quick, the other team is off to the races.
Don’t double a role player. He’s only in the game for one reason. If you double him, there’s a high probability that the main scorer will be left wide open or mismatched.
Only use zone defense as a last resort. There is a reason why zone defense is not as prevalent in the NBA; the players are way too skilled. Make sure you learn what each zone defense's strengths and weaknesses are. You can find this out by going to the coaching menu.
Don’t crash the boards if the average height of your lineup is 6-foot-4 and the other team's average height is 6-foot-9. Missed boards lead to fast breaks, and if you get too far behind, you will be playing catch-up.
I’m not saying that utilizing these tips will make you undefeated from here on out, but just playing smart basketball will more than likely help keep you in the game.