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How and When Does “Energy” Matter in an NBA Playoff Game Change?

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on June 16, 2010

(This is an addendum to the last post.)

If we can assume that both teams in a situation like a Game 7 or a game in The Finals or even any NBA playoff game, come out with the intention of having at least as much energy or passion as the other team, how and when does the energy that your team has supersede that of the other team and, in effect, take over the game? I think it’s much more subtle than simply trying harder for longer. What happens, instead, I believe, is you lose your energy or the other team does something that takes that part of the game out of you. Rips your will right from your heart, plants the doubt in your head. Subtle as it may seem, I think in Game 6 it was Ron Artest making those early shots. It was unexpected and therefore a game-changer. The deflation happens because one team somehow does something that puts a stamp on the game. It might be two or three trips down court where a team dominates the offensive glass, thereby putting the defensive team in a position to doubt themselves. That’s one way the Lakers can take the “energy steam” out of the Celts. The Celts meanwhile can take the lead in the energy game by having successive “lockdown” defensive possessions that can put the doubt into the Lakers. Or an alleyoop out of a timeout like the Lakers ran for Shannon Brown; caught the Celts off-guard and had to have made them question their preparation and their willingness to fight. Or Rondo’s dive and score versus J Williams in the Orlando series or Farmer versus Rondo last night. These are the plays that take it out of you, demonstrate a team’s passion and will to win. Each one is like a knockdown punch in a title fight. The legs go wobbly; energy has to re-group. The question is: who will provide these plays? Who will stay with the energy that they came into the game with and sustain it until they or they with their teammates can make a play that will take the will from the other team, further energize your own team, and pave the way to an NBA title?

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