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There are three main jobs for an NBA head coach: First, they must push, motivate and inspire their players to play their best. Second, they must create the best possible gameplan and game strategy. Thirdly, they must manage the game as it happens, battling the opposing coach.
If Jarrett Jack is the Warriors sixth man and the Oracle Arena crowd is the 12th (mixed sports metaphors, I know), Mark Jackson is the 13th man. If there was an award for that, Jackson would win it.
It seems obvious: Coaches should always have the best five players on the court given the current situation of the game. Yet, it seems as if most NBA coaches see this as either a negligible waste of time that will interrupt players' rhythms more often than it will give the team a key stop or a key bucket.
Jackson has been proving most NBA coaches wrong all season.
Whether it's Andris Biedrins for defense or Carl Landry for offense, Jackson has been the MVP of countless games for Golden State this season by inserting the right players at the right moments.
There are countless examples of this from every quarter of every game this season, but the best may have come on Feb. 24 in Minnesota.
With 1:09 remaining in the game and the Warriors up 98-97, Jackson removed his two best players—David Lee and Stephen Curry—along with a guy having a great game—Carl Landry—and inserted Andris Biedrins, Draymond Green and Kent Bazemore.
Yeah, Kent Bazemore. In a must-win one-point game.
Biedrins and Bazemore played a vital role in forcing Andrei Kirilenko to miss a three-pointer, and Jackson immediately called a timeout. Back into the game went Landry, Lee and Curry, and Harrison Barnes got to the free throw line.
In again came Green and Bazemore. Barnes made the first free-throw, but missed the second. 99-97 Warriors.
Only Draymond Green got the offensive rebound. He got the ball to Bazemore, who was fouled intentionally.
Yeah, Kent Bazemore on the line to seal a game.
The rookie made one and missed the second, but the one was all Golden State would need to win the game 100-99.
The Warriors are 14-6 in games decided by five points or less this season. That isn't veteran experience, that isn't clutch shooting, that isn't luck. That's Mark Jackson making subtle switches throughout the game, getting the Warriors that one "negligible" extra stop or one extra bucket that shows up as a 'W' instead of an "L' later on.