NBA Live 96 Online Player's Guide
Presented by EA Publications, creators of EA SPORTS Player's Guide books
Special thanks to David "Beavis" Lee for this guide
We've opened up our vault of tips to reward those who have taken the time to
stop by the NBA Live 96 home page. You can keep scrolling down to read through
the entire guide or jump to any of the topics below. If you find these tips
helpful, look for an entire EA SPORTS NBA Live Player's Guide book packed with
'em. Stay tuned to this page for developments.
Don't Get Snuffed
Driving to the Hoop
Shooting the Three
RUNNING THE FAST BREAK
WINNING UGLYThe Force-out
The Loo-ong Three
This section covers one of the most important aspects of NBA Live-you can't
win a game without scoring, and you can't score without hitting your shots. So
without further ado, here are the two most important rules of shooting:
Take the open shot.
Release the ball at the top of your jump.
Sounds simple enough, right? In theory, it is. But in execution, things can
get a trifle complicated.
There are four basic shot types in NBA Live 96. How your player shoots is
determined by who he is and where he is positioned. For instance, when
shooting from the outside, the player will try a jump shot. Closer in, he may
try a hook shot. Near the hoop he'll try one of a variety of slams (assuming
he can slam) or layups, depending on his size and abilities.
The most common shot of all, jump shots are used for all medium or longer shot
attempts. In a standard jump shot, the player jumps off of two feet, goes
straight up, and releases the ball toward the basket at the height of his
jump. The player's strong hand follows through toward the basket, while the
player's weak hand guides the ball from the side. A turnaround jumper can be
initiated if the player has his back to the basket when he starts his leap-as
he goes up, he turns toward the basket and shoots.
The layup is executed from close to the basket, usually on the run. It is the
small man's equivalent of the dunk-a very high percentage shot from in close.
It is launched off of one foot with a one hand release-usually from the hand
that is away from the basket. In NBA Livw, layups may go straight into the
basket or bounce off the backboard.
Hook shots are usually launched by larger players from short range. In NBA
Live, the hook shot is almost impossible to stop-it usually goes in, and is
very rarely blocked. Unfortunately, you can't control when your player will
shoot a hook shot, except that he should be stationary and fairly close to the
basket, ideally in the low post.
Dunks are launched off of one or both feet in NBA Live. Only a player with
good height and/or a high Jumping rating is capable of dunking. Aside from
possibly a 3-pointer, the dunk is the most exciting shot on the court. There's
no better feeling than ramming home a dunk right over your opponent.
DON'T GET SNUFFED
No one likes getting their shot rejected-it's embarrassing, humiliating, and
reduces your shot of making a bucket to somewhere between nil and zero.
Keep a space of four feet or so between you and your defender before launching
a shot. (For reference, it's 15 feet from the basket to the free throw line.)
The defender can leap toward you a long way (longer than in real life), so you
need more space than you might think.
A defender on your side or back is no threat. If you move away (toward the
sideline or the halfcourt line) from the basket, and then toward it again, you
can sometimes position your defender on your hip so that he can't block your
An uncontested 12 footer is better than a contested shot close to the hoop. If
there is space between you and your defender, consider shooting now rather
than moving closer to the basket-an unexciting jump shot counts for two
points, same as a monster dunk.
DRIVING TO THE HOOP
You've probably already realized that a bull rush to the basket is more likely
to result in a charging call than a score. If you want to learn a better way
to drive to the hoop, read on.
If the players are bunched up in the middle, it's going to be hard to get
close to the bucket, let alone get a clear shot. There are several factors
that control player spacing:
If the defense is playing back in a Quarter Court set, it will be harder to
get to the hoop. Learn to recognize when the defense is crowding in the paint,
and react intelligently-if the defense is crowding the inside, it may be a
better strategy to shoot from mid to long range rather than try to drive. Of
course, if the defense is spread out, it's time to shake and bake to the
Each offensive set has a pattern of player positioning. If your goal is a
drive to the bucket, the best set is Isolation, which brings the offensive
players away from the hoop to clear lanes for one-on-one play and drives to
Whether you're controlling your team by yourself or with one or more team
members, you have a good degree of control to how your players are arranged.
Even playing by yourself, you can pass to a player playing inside, bring him
out of the key (bringing his defender with him), and then pass to another
player with an angle to drive into the vacated space. If you're playing with
more than one player on a team, position the players that you control with
intelligent spacing-spread out if you want to drive.
TURNING THE CORNER
Any time that your defender is on your side or your back, you have a great
chance to drive for a score. If your defender is already on your back, you
probably know what to do-head for the basket. But you can use the following
technique to shake most defenders in a one-on-one situation.
Dribble away from the basket. Your defender will follow you, maintaining
roughly the same position in front of you.
When you're out on either wing (toward the sideline), spin around and head
around the defender toward the basket with a little Turbo boost.
Your defender should be left behind you. If there's no one close to the basket
head in for a layup or dunk. If there is someone lurking, pull up for an open
DRIVING ON A FAST BREAK
Unless you have a very fast player, you can't depend on the Turbo button to
outpace your defender to the rim. But you can position yourself so that the
defender won't be able to block your layup:
When running down the court with a defender at your side, angle into the
defender to push him away from the basket. When you're close to the basket
(past the free throw line), angle in toward the basket. Your body is now
between the defender and the basket, leaving you with a clear lane to the
Dunk, dunk, dunk. That's what some people say the NBA has been reduced
to-great athletes who want to dunk over everyone without learning the science
of basketball. You know what? Who cares? Dunking is fun, and nowhere more so
than in NBA Live. In Live, every sub-six foot gamer gets a chance to make his
or her dunking fantasies come true, and that's the way it should be. Sheesh.
It's a game, after all.
Aside from your skill and control, there are two factors that control which
players get to make the rim-rattling dunks:
The player's Height and Jumping rating. These two factors control if the
player can dunk at all.
The player's Dunking rating. This controls how the player can dunk. A very
tall player may be able to execute dunks any time he's near the basket, but if
he has a low Dunking rating, he'll only throw down basic slams. A medium tall
player (say, 6' 6" or so) with good Jumping and Dunking ratings will not only
be able to throw down a two-hand jam but may go off on a 360 spin before he
pounds the rim.
SHOOTING THE THREE
NBA Live 96 reflects the new, closer NBA three-point line, so it's not a bad
strategy to throw up some treys during a game. If you want to make your threes
count, however, keep in mind these rules:
Not all shooters are created equal. Familiarize yourself with the Three Point
ratings of the players on your team. If a player with a 68 rating takes a lot
of threes, he may end up with more bricks than the yellow road to Oz.
The best spot to shoot from seems to be at about 45 degrees from the basket
rather than from the top of the key or the side. If you do shoot from the
side, be careful-the strip of court between the 3-point line and the sideline
is very narrow, so you may step out of bounds.
Just as with any other shot, you've got a better chance of making it if your
feet are set before you jump. However, if you're moving toward the basket, you
can throw up a shot without stopping without hurting your percentages too
much. Your release point ends up being a little closer to the basket if you
shoot on the run. If the defense is playing back in a Quarter Court set, you
can march up to the three-point line and get a shot off without much
likelihood of getting it blocked.
Don't try to shoot the three under pressure. Even a great leaper stands an
excellent chance of getting stuffed by the smallest of guards. If you do go up
to shoot with a defender leaping in your face, press the Pass button to pass
the ball to a teammate. If your shot gets blocked, the defender usually has a
better shot at picking up the loose ball than you do, so you'll not only miss
the shot but pick up a turnover as well.
The worst shot in basketball may be the very long two-it has all the risk of a
3-pointer but is worth only two points. Make sure you're behind the line
before launching the ball.
EA TIP: You can tell if you're touching the three-point line if your control
star or circle is touching the line.
If you're being dogged by a defender out on the perimeter, here's a way to get
the ball to an open player for a three:
With the ball, run toward the other offensive player.
Run past him and see if you can get his defender to stick on you so that you
draw a double team.
Keep running until both defenders are away from your other player, and then
pass the ball back to him.
If you don't have a clear passing lane back to the other player, you can press
the Shoot button to get airborne then hit Pass before you hit the ground to
pass over the defenders.
When you have control of the second player, let the three go. Since you're
shooting an uncontested shot, your chances of sinking it are pretty good.
Even if you don't draw the second player's defender with this strategy, you
may be able to brush off your defender by running close to your counterpart.
In this case, you're free and clear to throw up a shot yourself.
BOTTOM LINE: Shoot the three with a good shooter in good position behind the
line with no defender close.
RUNNING THE FAST BREAK
The fast break is the best offensive strategy any team could ever hope for-a
two-on-one or three-on-two matchup is more advantageous than a five-on-five
struggle, no matter what the circumstances. Except for a few specific
instances, you should take advantage of any opportunity to run a fast
break-who doesn't want to score quick, easy buckets?
Another advantage of the fast break is that if you're behind, it gives you
more opportunities to score in less time.
When not to run a fast break:
When you have a comfortable lead and want to run time off the clock.
If there are fewer than 24 seconds left in the period, you may be better off
running down the clock before shooting the ball. That way, you get one scoring
opportunity, while your opponent gets none.
If the strength of your team is a halfcourt offense, you may not want to get
into a sprinting contest with the other team-you may be better served by
controlling the ball and thus limiting their offensive opportunities. Even in
this instance, though, you should take advantage of easy fast break
How to set up a fast break:
The best opportunity to break is off of a steal or blocked shot, particularly
one from beyond the foul line. The other team is set up to run their offense,
and will take a few seconds to get back on D. When you gain possession of the
ball, run upcourt. If a teammate is out ahead of you, get him the ball.
Another opportunity comes after a defensive rebound, particularly a long
rebound away from the endline. Again, push the ball upcourt.
The final (and most difficult) opportunity is after a made basket. If you get
off a quick, long pass off the inbounds play, you may be able to surprise the
General fast break strategies:Move the ball upcourt quickly via long passes
and Turbo sprinting. Enough said.
Spread the floor. If you have a numbers advantage, it plays into the
defenders' hands for you to run close to each other. If one player has the
ball in the middle, the other players should run out on the wings, ensuring
that at least one player is open.
One-on-one fast break:
Dipsy do, baby. Weave, spin dribble, and use any other moves you can think of
to shake your defender. Remember, you can pull up for an easy jump shot once
you're past the free throw line-assuming there's space between you and your
If you arrive at the basket and your defender is still right in front of you,
slow up but keep moving toward the baseline. Once the defender is behind the
backboard, reverse course and shoot a turnaround shot when you're back in
front of the basket. Piece of cake.
If you're losing by a lot, you may want to risk a three-point shot if
you're controlling a good shooter and the defender leaves you room for an open
Two-on-one fast break:
The trick here is to force the lone defender to commit to one of the two
offensive players. Don't make the defender's job an easy one by both running
straight toward the bucket.
If you're the ballhandler, pick a side of the basket and drive toward it. Your
teammate should run on the opposite side or trail behind you.
If the defender lets you go by him, drive in for a layup. If he commits to
defend you, wait until he can't recover to defend against your teammate, then
pass the ball to your teammate. He should have an easy layup.
If your teammate is trailing the play, you have the option of driving all the
way to the bucket (driving the defender behind the basket) then dropping the
ball back for the other player to shoot a short jumper or layup, or simply
shooting a layup-if you miss, your teammate should be able to get the
offensive rebound and tip the ball back in.
The moment when you give the ball to your teammate will vary depending on the
position of the defender. If he covers you tightly up by the free throw line,
you may be able to slow down and let your teammate go past, then give the ball
up. Other times, it may be more advantageous to pass off when you're closer to
Three-on-two fast break:
The same basic rules apply here as in a one-on-one break-spread the floor and
force the defenders to commit. Once again, if you have proper spacing, one
player will be open.
Usually, the best spacing occurs when the ballhandler drives straight to the
basket with a teammate on each wing. If the defenders collapse on the
ballhandler, he can give the ball up to either teammate. If he splits the
defenders, he can go right to the rim. And if only one defender commits to
him, he can give the ball up to the teammate who isn't covered by the other
Two-on-three fast break:
What are you thinking? This isn't an opportunity to break. Slow the ball up
and wait for your teammates to get upcourt.
The simplest (and often most effective) defense is to simply D up against your
counterpart on the other team. There are several other defensive strategies
you can follow, but we'll just cover the two most important rules of defensive
play in NBA Live 96:
STAY WITH YOUR MAN
You want to control the defender nearest the ball. This makes sense, but if
you continually hit the Pass button to switch to the player nearest the ball,
you're actually making it impossible to play good defense. You're always
playing catch up, and you can't react intelligently because you're switching
all over the place. Don't blindly switch players. Switch only when you have a
reason to switch. Let your human or computer teammates do their jobs.
STAY BETWEEN THE BALL AND THE BASKET
This rule is most important when trying to stop a fast break, but it is
universally applicable. If a defender is between a computer-controlled
ballhandler and the basket, he'll pull up rather than driving to the hoop. If
you stay between the ballhandler and the basket, your man can do his job as a
defender, which is to keep the ballhandler from scoring.
You probably play a respectable game most of the time, but sometimes you want
to win at all costs. (When playing against your little brother, for example.)
Here are a few tricks that won't win you the good guy reputation that will
have shoe companies knocking at your door with endorsement bucks, but may just
put you in position to win a close game.
When two players run near each other, they may become enmeshed so that one
player can pull the other player along. This can be frustrating if you're
ballhandler, but you can turn this to your advantage when you're on defense.
Run next to the ballhandler. Don't run into him straight on; try to follow a
parallel course with him, then ease into him.If the ballhandler is near the
sideline or baseline, try to guide him out of bounds.
If the ballhandler is trying to shoot a three-pointer, try to guide him inside
the three point line (or even further outside if you're willing to give up a
chance for 3 points in exchange for a greater degree of difficulty).You'll
have better luck with a big strong player than a wispy point guard.
If you try a hand-check or Turbo sprint into the offensive player when trying
to get a force-out, you may get a foul. You're better off going for a steal if
you can't move the offensive player-don't give up cheap fouls.
Now, if you can somehow push another offensive player into the ballhandler,
you'll probably get off scot free.
THE LOO-ONG THREE
We didn't want to mention this in the section that taught you how to shoot
3-pointers properly, but the distance from the basket doesn't necessarily have
an effect on your 3-point shooting percentages. In fact, you may sometimes
even have a better chance on a - court shot than from just behind the 3-point
line-you're bound to be wide open.
When you need to score points in a hurry, throw up some shots from way
deep-behind the halfcourt line. Even if you miss, you'll have a chance to grab
the long rebound if you Turbo run toward it. It's ugly, unrealistic, and
unfair-but if fair was what you wanted, you wouldn't be reading this section,
This isn't so much an ugly tip as a way to enliven the game that's become
popular here at EA SPORTS. When your opponent is shooting free throws, don't
even bother trying to punch the buttons on your controller to animate the
T-Meter crowd background. Wave your hands in the air and make lots of noise,
just like the crowd behind the basket in a real game. If you're really
enthusiastic and want a touch of realism, you could even try getting some of
those skinny balloons that crowds wave.
OK, you probably don't want to go that far, but as long as your neighbors
don't complain, this is a great way to have fun and relieve a little tension
during a tight game. Just don't wave your hands in front of your buddy's
face-now that would be cheating.
Copyright 1996 Electronic Arts. All rights reserved.