In the playoffs, sometimes people — teams, fans, media — can focus and become obsessed about the little things, the meaningless things, and not the things that really matter.
For example, if the Lakers want to talk about why they lost Game 5 to Denver they can talk about Andrew Bynum’s defensive rotations (or lack thereof). Or the fact that without guys like Steve Blake and Matt Barnes knocking down threes the Nuggets defense doesn’t get punished for the doubles and collapses on Bynum and Pau Gasol. Then Kobe just tries to take over.
The Lakers coaches were frustrated with all that, but the Lakers also were fuming about Denver using a laptop during a timeout. From Mike Bresnahan at the Los Angeles Times (via Ball Don’t Lie).
The Lakers were privately seething after seeing the Nuggets use a laptop computer in their huddle during a 20-second timeout with 19.9 seconds left to play.
The computer apparently belonged to an assistant coach sitting behind the bench with it. NBA rules forbid the use of such devices in the huddle, which won’t change the final score but can carry a hefty fine of up to $250,000.
As Dan Devine points out at BDL, at the moment in question the Lakers were down 99-96, so the Nuggets staff might have looked up scouting information on a last-second Lakers play. I’m not sure why you need a computer to tell you Kobe Bryant is going to take an isolation three, but to each his own.
Is using a laptop on the bench really against the rules? Denver’s GM reached out to the league to calm the waters. Yahoo asked for the details and was told that what Denver did was not against NBA rules. George Karl talked at his press avilability about a memo that seemed to say a laptop with scouting information could be kept near the bench so long as information isn’t taken from them while the game is in progress.
My question: Why is this even a big deal? Not sure how many teams really do this, but so what?
Why shouldn’t a team be able to pull out an iPad during a timeout loaded with the opposing team’s most common end-of-game sets then have a coach show that to the players? That is not cheating, that is scouting. That is using technology to make sure your players are properly prepared for what the opposing team is likely to run. Why is having that video on in the locker room before the game okay but having it on an iPad on the bench not?
To me, as the advanced statistical revolution marches on in the NBA the challenge is to impart the information gathered to the players in a way they can use. It’s one thing to say Tyson Chandler shoots 67.2 percent when he gets the ball back as a roll man after setting the pick and that he tries to find a direct line to the basket, it’s another to show a loop of what Chander does successfully as a player to his defender (and the team) and let them adjust. Most people are visual learners — to see it as numbers is one thing, to see it in action is another.
I don’t see the problem with a team using this technology on the bench or during breaks. I don’t have an issue with bringing technology into the game.
And while it didn’t impact this game anyway, the Lakers should be worried about why they really lost and not laptops.