Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Winning basketball in the post season

The Laker-Suns series has clearly illustrated what it takes to win in the post season. The methodical and technical half court approach to offense mixed with great attention to detail on defense has led to a minor upset. When you watch the Lakers at the offensive end, you see a model of efficiency for the most part. They do not dribble unless they are attacking the basket. They receive the ball assume triple threat and analyze the defense. They make decisions based upon what the defense gives them, not on what they desire to do. They also pass the ball around to everybody on their team. What this does is force each defender on the suns to play straight up honest defense each time down the court. This causes great mental strain to a team that would rather sprint up and down the court firing up threes. It forces them into playing a slowed down mental game instead of the free wheeling creative style they are accustomed to. Yeah, to the average fan this is probably pretty boring to watch. As someone who cares about the game being played the right way, I could truly care less about the average fan getting off on fast break dunks and long range three pointers. He can go through six packs and play NBA live all day long if he needs to.
What really needs to be examined here is the way that NBA teams are assembled (listen up Isiah). Through each generation there is always a handful of organizations that try to throw together a Mike Martz style of basketball team. They load up on scorers, play a fast tempo of free wheeling basketball and blow a lot of teams out in the regular season. When you take a close look at these teams, it always plays out the same way........They get straight up punked in the post season. If you want to win in the post season, you have to have a balanced team with quality role players and a few great players. You have to play smart, tough defense. And finally, you have to break people down in the half court offense by creating mental strain against the defense. When you are playing a seven game series, you develop a much greater knowledge of the team you are competing against, and the gap either closes up or gets blown wide open. As a GM, you have two options; you can assemble a team for entertainment purposes, or you can try to assemble a team that is built to win a seven game playoff series. Sure, 85% of the fans are ignorant about what it really takes to achieve greatness, but you can't fool those who know.