Last night after my sometimes beloved and frequently frustrating FSU football team pulled off a win in the “I have no idea what we are calling it this year” bowl, I caught the end of the OKC/ Mavs game. It was a testament to the greatness of NBA basketball.
In the final minute, four separate players hit monumental shots capped by Kevin Durant’s ridiculous game winner in the video above. The execution of both teams was impeccable. In each possession, they got the ball to the player they wanted to shoot and the player delivered under pressure.
As a high school coach, I want my team to make the game uncomfortable for my opponent. Have extra players shoot, handle and make decisions, and in most circumstances this is easy to accomplish. Changing defenses, junk defenses and sometimes simple awareness of what the other team is comfortable doing is enough unsettle them. I have a disdainful regard for mid-game time-outs rooted in the fact that so few times at this level does anything productive come out of them. Typically, if a coach calls time-out because my press is effective, I will come out of the time-out in something else and gain advantage.
Even at the college level, teams can be made to look inept in the face of resolute defense or superior athleticism. The may wilt under pressure or tempo, or even lack thereof.
In the NBA, this does not happen. Every team plays at least twice a year, and in the instance of play-offs as many as eleven times. The players and coaches know each other intimately. They can have intricate game plans for Kobe, Lebron, Durant or Paul, but tactical nuances are temporary as the greatness of these players will find ways to adapt and succeed. The players are simply too good and their will to win to visceral.