Fans of the NBA are often disappointed to find that the ostensible smartest guys in the room—the teams’ coaches—so often circumvent smart analysis in lieu of lazy platitudes (Gregg Popovich, by virtue of being in his own glorious cluster galaxy, is exempt from all criticism).
Which is why it’s so refreshing to hear something like this, from the Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra, delivered following his team’s 104-90 Game 3 loss to the Brooklyn Nets Saturday night:
That’s…that’s actually a perfect observation.
Coach Spo was referring to Brooklyn’s balanced attack, which resulted in six players finishing with 10 points or more and not one tallying over 20 (Joe Johnson was the high man with 19).
This was all part of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s [c. $200 million] plan, of course. Indeed, after weathering a horrendous 10-21 start, Brooklyn’s role players—highlighted by Shaun Livingston, Andray Blatche and Alan Anderson—finally started jelling with their more gilt-clad counterparts.
The result: A late-season surge that put the Nets on a direct collision course with Miami, whom Brooklyn bested in all four of their regular-season meetings.
After falling behind 0-2 on Miami’s home floor, Brooklyn head coach Jason Kidd knew it was time to lay down some wildcards, as Sports Illustrated’s Matt Dollinger aptly noted:
After pouring in 20 points in Game 2, [Mirza] Teletovic’s hot hand carried into Game 3, scoring 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting from deep. Even more impressive, the shooting specialist did an admirable job of defending LeBron, a feat even more miraculous than Blatche taking over Game 3.
It was a strange defensive assignment in a game littered with strange lineups. Down 0-2, Kidd shook up his rotation drastically in hopes of finding something that worked. After receiving a DNP-CD on Thursday, Andrei Kirilenko played 19 minutes Saturday, doing everything from guarding Dwyane Wade to playing center in one of Brooklyn’s most extreme lineups…
…Was there a method to Kidd’s madness or was he just throwing things at wall hoping something would stick? Either way, it worked.
The NBA playoffs are all about game-to-game adjustments and, judging by Spoelstra’s sterling track record on that front, the Heat will be raring and ready come Monday’s Game 4.
Right at the top of the grease board: not allowing Brooklyn’s bench to go bonkers and limiting their three-point makes, of which the Nets registered 13 in Game 3.
Even if the Heat wind up dropping another one, at least we can look forward to another golden Coach Spo metaphor. Hopefully something about not getting your hand caught in a chainsaw ceiling fan while holding a bowl of otter teeth.