Mar 17

Players Make Shots, But Coach Still Calls Them

By caseyholdahl Posted in: Blazers, BrandonRoy, Cavaliers
It almost sounds ungrateful to say it, but blowouts aren't only difficult for the team getting blown out. That's not to say that you would rather be on the losing side, and it's infinitely more gut-wrenching to lose by 30 than to win by 30, but as Brandon Roy said after the game, it's not exactly easy to keep your focus when leading by 35... in the first quarter.

Said Roy: "It's tough to play up by 40!"

Given the "difficulty" of playing with a huge lead, some might have been left wondering, given the fact that the game was seemingly in the bag by halftime, why Head Coach Nate McMillan opted to run with his regular rotation rather than putting in the end of the bench.

Part of it is that the Trail Blazers really don't have "scrubs." Everyone on the Portland roster, aside from Armon Johnson, Chris Johnson and Jarron Collins,  plays consistent minutes, so it's not as though there's a full unit waiting anxiously to get into games long since decided.

But more importantly, McMillan chose to stick with his normal rotation because the team still needs to improve. And without much opportunity to practice going into the stretch run of the season, games, be they of the blowout variety or not, are the only real chance to get some rhythm.

"We wanted to use this game to continue to work, to get better and work on some things," said McMillan. "I thought the defense was really good. The pressure was good on the ball. We wanted to, since putting Wallace into the starting lineup, we wanted to look to extend our defense and trap a little bit and had an opportunity to work on that."

Roy, much like his teammates, got plenty of work in despite the result, and that's probably a good thing. After sitting out so many games, one could assume that all minutes Roy gets at this point will be helpful when it comes to rounding into post-season form. But according to Brandon, the need to get in-game reps is only helpful up to a certain point.

"It's a fine line though," said Roy of playing in the second half despite the rout being on. "It was one of them ones where I thought I got my rhythm in the first half. Second half was kinda junk out there. If (McMillan) plays me, he plays me. If he doesn't, he doesn't. Either way, I just want to try to be ready."

But the bottom line is that it doesn't matter what Coach McMillan's motivations were. As Roy so plainly explained, Coach makes the decision when it comes to playing time. Simple as that. His reasons, be they a desire to get in work, to search for rhythm or what have you, are the only reasons that matter. The decision is his and his alone.

"That's a whole quarter," said McMillan of why he left his regular rotation players in until 3:43 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. "Guys can get minutes. We're playing that game to work on our rhythm. How soon do you take them out? When is the game over?

"I'm coaching and I get them out when I want to."

There's nothing difficult to understand about that.
Previous Story: Just Casey: Episode 37


  1. Thanks Casey. I think us fans and I'm sure the players worry that they could sustain an injury in that junk time, but of course, there are things you could work on, but I think as B-Roy said, there is a fine line. Though injury is always a possibility, given our recent history/misfortune, that is always the thought floating at the back of one's mind.

    As I said on Mike's blog though, a nice blowout is always welcome, just to take care of a game, no let-down, etc.

    -Anees, from Prague

    by Anees on 3/17/2011 11:43 PM
  2. A great Blog Casey, and as I said on MB blog, it wasn't about the score, but as you said, there is a lot of getting better to do in the regular season.

    aneebaba: A coach can't worry about injuries when tuning up for the play-offs. You can blow a knee or sustain an injury at any given time. Although I see your point, I have to say the injury part is not part of the game. You have be ready to play 48 minute games.

    by Hg on 3/18/2011 12:03 AM
  3. you don't win a championship with 6 -7 players a team needs 10+ players tuned in. up 40 you must get some court time for the bottom 3-4 guys and that is a no brainer. garbage time is injury time due to flagrant foul by the losing team. it's rubbing the score in their face when you leave your starters in the whole game.

    by mbmurr1 on 3/18/2011 8:52 AM
  4. Hg: I understand, I guess you now know where my thoughts are at. I do realize Nate's or any coach's outlook is to prepare his team in whatever way possible, so if that's means being out on the floor longer, then that' is the way to go. Thanks for that though - my b-ball IQ isn't that high, I will admit, I just kinda say waht comes to mind.

    by Anees on 3/18/2011 10:46 AM
  5. aneebaba: my BBIQ isn't great, I learn from everybody's post. My thoughts are not gospel, many agree with your stand on the matter and it comes to just being opinions. Matter of fact, I would have liked to watch the bottom of the bench play more just to see how they play, but I just realize that the team has been guilty of letting down when we run up a lead and if we punish them by taking them out then we may be defeating the purpose. As Kassandra says, we have to play the game for 48 minutes.

    by Hg on 3/18/2011 10:54 AM
  6. Hg: Thanks again. Yes, it would be nice to see some of the other guys. Yes, our dear Kass is right, we have to play the whole game. That is the one theme that will always be an issue regardless who we have on the team and one that I can recall always feeling frustrated about over the last 10 years, so I hope that we can do our best down the stretch and yes of course, in the playoffs. I can live with the results as long as we 'bring it' for 48 min (or something close, though even a few minutes here and there can decide a playoff game and subsequently, a series, so yeah, 48 is best :-) ).

    by Anees on 3/18/2011 1:17 PM
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