Energy, Emotion, Passion and Game 7, Celtics vs Lakers
Posted by Steve Bzomowski on June 16, 2010
Last night, near the end of the game, Mark Jackson said something like, “well, one thing for sure, the coaches won’t have to motivate their teams to come play Thursday night. It will be all about energy, emotion, and passion.”
There’s always a lot of talk by coaches and commentators about one team “coming to play” and the other team not. I dispute this. I don’t dispute it in the regular season – the long, long regular season – where it is impossible to “bring it” every night, but in the playoffs? C’mon, I believe in the most fundamental definition of all those “energy” terms, in the playoffs, especially The Finals, these players come to play, but the circumstances at the outset, usually the first few minutes, but occasionally a little deeper into the game, actually decide who sustains that energy, and who wins and who is deemed the team that brought the passion.
Basketball is unlike other sports, especially individual sports. Think about track and field or tennis; the hardest thing to do in those sports is once you are ahead, to then remain ahead. The energy comes from the pursuer. In basketball, for some reason, it is easier for individuals and teams to gain energy once they get on a little role. Success begets success and success brings new life, looseness, energy and freedom to the body. Made shots lead to more made shots, swarming defense by one player brings quickness and desire to the next player, a quick transition basket leads to quick feet and another steal and on and on. You’ve seen it a million times. An avalanche of energy; but the key is getting to the top of that first hill before the other team. At some point one team is saying to the other, “you are now reacting to us. Bye bye.” You’ve got to not just come with energy, but you have to win the energy game that exists within the bigger game. That’s why the first quarter, who wins the first quarter has been so important in this series. Whoever has won the first quarter has won the game in all six contests. You win the first quarter and you win the battle of who can sustain the energy. And, further, that’s why Rondo is so important to the Celtics. He’s the energy guy; he gets them out and going. If he starts by owning every inch of the 94′ x 50′, the Celtics will feed off him and give themselves a shot at winning the game. If Rondo, drives and dishes, or drives and makes the Lakers defense react, then it takes the pressure off their shooters when they run their sets (which proved totally futile last night and will prove futile again tomorrow tonight). Rondo must create. Rondo = energy and if that energy translates to made shots (as Jeff VanGundy said a few games ago, “this is a league of makes and misses”) then that energy brings the Celtics the championship. If the Celtics don’t push Rondo to that 100 mph role, then the Lakers with home court crowd and the momentum of Game Six, size, rebounding advantage and the indomitable Kobe Bryant, will grab the energy trophy and hoist it over their heads at game’s end.