WE ALL know that basketball adage about players winning games and coaches losing them.
I think that’s true only on half the time, but in the case of the recently deposed Los Angeles Clippers, this couldn’t have been more applicable.
3-1. Heading into yesterday’s game 7 against the Denver Nuggets, I had a bad feeling about the Clips.
Up 3-1 , this series was theirs to lose. And to think they even won game 1. That means the Nuggets went 4-2 down the stretch.
In games 5 and 6, the Clippers inexplicably blew double-digit leads in the fourth quarter. In Game 6, they were up 18 near the end of the third. If that’s not a coaching issue then I don’t know what is.
When a team is up, your job as a coach is supposed to become easier, as the players have already put in the work.
Do you retain your starters to ensure you keep the lead? Do you give them a break and let the second team take over? Do you retain some of your starters to play with your back-ups?
When you see the other team catching up, do you maintain the same defensive pattern or apply a new offensive scheme just to keep things fresh or stymie the other team’s momentum?
These are the questions to ponder and this is why the ball shifts to the coach at this point in the game.
DENVER. But of course, it was also about the Nuggets. They never gave up and their players are just spectacular offensive juggernauts. In game 7, Jamal Murray scorched the Clips for 40 points on 6-13 from the 3 point range. In Games 5 and 6, it was Nikola Jokic who was unstoppable.
The fact that they had to battle against adversity and attrition to climb back from consecutive 1-3 holes in the playoffs speaks volumes about why they deserved to win.
This team has the deadly combination of heart and talent and their waiting opponents- the Los Angeles Lakers better not take them lightly.
DOC. I know Coach Doc Rivers owns a ring when he had the brilliant triumvirate of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen with the Boston Celtics, but his body of work elsewhere isn’t exactly a beacon for excellence.
He now owns the ignominious record of being the only NBA head coach to blow three 3-1 leads.
Truth be told I never really liked his coaching style and on several occasions, I have expressed my dislike to anyone who cared to listen and preach about how the Clips were going to win it all this year. Rivers relies too much on isolation plays and my perception of him is that he doesn’t really inspire his players.
After game 6, Coach Mike Malone of the Nuggets met his players at the dugout and said something like “You guys are amazing... you climbed up from 18 points down and you just didn’t give up...”
Truly inspiring and uplifting. Contrast that to Doc Rivers- when he was asked entering into game 7 what he would say to his players to fire them up, he was dismissive and said that pep talks don’t really work.
Truly disappointing. This writer is partial to inspirational speeches and when your team is down and starting to doubt themselves, that’s the opportune time to get into their psyche and motivate them.
When your team is able to repeatedly build double-digit leads that means it’s not a personnel issue—you already have the requisite tools to win. And that means when they regularly blow huge leads, that’s all mental. And that’s when it’s incumbent upon the coach to step in and do some encouragement or whatever it takes. Hell, he can even cuss them to high heavens, it really doesn’t matter as long as it gets the job done, mentally and emotionally.
Speaking of jobs, I have a sneaking suspicion Doc’s may be up for grabs.
LAST ROUND. It’s on Edwin Montilla , Clerk of Court of MTCC Surigao City, Branch 2 who celebrates his birthday this week. Cheers!