Thursday, February 19, 2009

Responding to injuries in the NBA

Good teams in the NBA respond to an injury or trade of a key player by playing better.

Sound ridiculous?  Maybe better is the wrong word; harder is a better choice.  

Last night the Hornets, after trading (or so they thought) their 26 year old center Tyson Chandler to the Thunder, exploded over the Magic for a 117-85.  When Andrew Bynum went down,  Kobe exploded for 61 points at Madison Square Garden.  

When the Suns replaced their coach with Alvin Gentry, they scored 140 points in regulation on back-to-back nights against the same team.   Thats incredible.  The clippers knew it was coming the next night.  They played at home.  Home court gave the Clippers an additional twenty points against the Suns...but they still lost by twenty.  

These are professional athletes.  They are all very skilled.  Often the only difference in performances night-to-night is intensity and effort.  Look at the Celtics.  They brought together a collection of good players from perennial losing teams.  And they won the championship with a focus on defensive effort and sustained superior effort.  

Certain factors trigger superior effort in players; it is almost a pavlovian response.  When the Hornets lost their center and everyone said their championship hopes were dashed, they played their hearts out.  But now Tyson Chandler is back.  The trade was cancelled because he failed a physical. 

So what will happen?  The Hornets are likely to play flat in one or two of the upcoming games and have the favor returned by an opposing team.

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