Steve Clifford is right.
To use myself as an example, I watch a ridiculous amount of NBA games during the season, both in person and on television (or streaming). I talk to people around the league — players, scouts, other basketball junkies — about the NBA and its players and strategies. I keep up on stats (particularly advanced). I’m not ignorant of the game.
But I am no scout, no coach. Not even close. I do not pretend to be. I’m wrong with what I think is going on plenty. I don’t see so many important details. I will talk about adjustments during a playoff series, but coaches often play the importance of those down.
Steve Clifford said all of that brilliantly when asked about adjustments after his Hornets’ loss Tuesday. The video above is part of his speech, here are his full comments.
Teams do make adjustments that matter over the course of a playoff series. Sometimes those work out brilliantly — think Golden State accepting their true identity and going small starting Andre Iguodala in the Finals last season — but as Clifford said often the answer is far more straightforward. For example, Portland’s coach Terry Stotts admitted after his team’s Game 2 loss Tuesday that he did use Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum off the ball more to get them better looks against a trapping Clippers’ defense. And it worked, they got more and better looks — then they shot a combined 12-of-39.
Jeff Van Gundy would remind us it’s a make-or-miss league, and all the adjustments in the world don’t matter if you miss the shots. Van Gundy protegé Clifford reminded us of that, too.