Both teams have demonstrated they can achieve similar offensive production. Does defense become more important? Is there a unique strategy regarding three-point field goals, steals, assists or other changes?

  • I think one thing is for certain, during regulation or overtime, you play to win the game. Good question...wonder if the right approach is to become more aggressive or conservative...
    – user527
    Jun 25, 2014 at 13:22
  • The fouls are a big problem, especially for the players who play many minutes
    – Joker
    Nov 8, 2014 at 23:53

4 Answers 4


This is certainly situation based upon fouls(team and individual), pace of play, opposing schemes(offensively and defensively), etc.

Defensively, the strategy is to become more aggressive and force the opposing players into bad positions. Players are more tired in overtime so their shots are not as crisp and as clean compared to regulation so defense become a little bit 'easier'. There are a limited number of possessions in overtime, so defensively, you are trying to force a turnover or the worst possible shot, typically with a hand in the face. Little lapses in overtime turn into win or lose situations.

Offensively, teams become a lot more patient. Less shots are forced and less drives are put into double teams. This is wear a superior ball handler takes games over or a sound offensive scheme becomes more important. There are limited number of elite ball handlers at every level so the system being run is important. I always find I would rather have my players run off of screens instead of dribble the ball in overtime, less chance for turnovers.

But in the end, as @edmastermind29 and Herm Edwards said: "You play to win the game."

  • I would definitely disagree with you that defense is easier at the end because the offense is more tired. The above is true, but it ignores the fact that playing defense is more mentally, and that the defense will also be tired. I can be harder to react to a pick and roll or to get across to block a shot late in the game due to the minutes already played.
    – DannyBland
    Feb 6, 2015 at 12:32

It's a very interesting question. In other sports, tactics do seem to change in overtime periods, mostly because teams try to "play for the shootout" or are just happy to tie if that's a possibility. Other teams really try to win during the overtime period. Because basketball's overtime rules call for a series of five minute quarters that will go on into infinity as long as the teams keep being tied at the end of them, I don't think there would be any major change to tactics.

  • I notice you have two accounts (this being the other). For more information about merging these accounts, refer here.
    – user527
    Feb 28, 2015 at 20:07

It's an interesting question, one that's hard to give a satisfactory overall answer, I feel.

I think the exact mentality and strategy will vary according to several factors, such as (in no particular order):

  • how the regulation time went: If one team were leading most of the game (or at least the last quarter) with a comfortable margin, and lost the margin late in the game, it would be a very different situation I reckon, compared to an even-game.

  • what's the main strength/weakness of your team vs the strength/weakness of the opponent, throughout the game. So say you are dominating in the paint, you want to play to your strength. You want to make sure your big men don't mess up on the personal fouls, they get the rest and/or support they need. Alternatively say the other team is having difficulties sinking 3s; you want to zone as aggressively as you can on the D.

Regardless of the specifics of the situation, I think the main strategy is mental management:

  • to maintain the ambition to win, to keep pushing
  • to use whatever little energy players have as efficiently as possible
  • to increase teamwork, focus on good communication, especially in defense
  • to not take unnecessary risks, or force shots in panic

Well in overtime you have less time to score + both teams are tied so its like a new game score wise so you need to be more cautious and take care of the ball and really not turnover the ball because every position counts more now than before. I would say defense is more important because that's what wins championships at the end of the day but every coach is different. There is no unique strategy you just have to execute and play smarter and more cautiously.

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