First, yesterday the conversation in the comments turned to Phil Jackson and his coaching style — is part of the reason for the Lakers inconsistency based on Jackson’s laidback style during games? I’ve always thought that Lakers fans desire to see a coach pace the sidelines and yell a little is more based on the need for a cathartic release at players they are frustrated with than actual coaching issues.
But then in the comments Craig W. made a fantastic point:
I remember watching a very successful coach who also didn’t believe in making too many in-game changes and also did almost all his teaching between games — John Wooden…
It is a unique style, but one I would expect players with high IQs (Walton, Wilkes, Alcindor, Warren) would thrive in. The players must be smart and mentally tough to be able to function in all kinds of game situations without coaching interference. I think it is the best possible situation for a player, but they must be able to handle themselves. I wonder if this isn’t the reason most ‘modern’ players don’t enjoy systems run in this fashion – and why most coaches won’t try to institute them.
He added later that Wooden was very slow to call timeouts.
As for the game, the Lakers did a fantastic job in game 5 of exploiting mismatches — basically use their size to control the paint. The early big-on-big action of Pau Gasol passing to Andrew Bynum really set the tone for the Lakers, and the Rockets really have no answer for it. As we have seen this year, the Lakers need to feel the flow on offense for them to bring the energy on the defensive end (the Lakers are 7-0 in the playoffs when scoring 100+ points, 0-3 when under that number). Early offense from the bigs or even Kobe will be important.
The other thing the Lakers need to do is take the ball out of Brooks’ hands and get it over to Ron Artest. While he is capable of a big game, he is shooting 23.5% since Yao went down, and is shooting 7% from three. More Artest is good for the Lakers (unless he is having a hot game again). Carl Landry is shooting 65.5%, so less of him would be ideal.
One thing the Lakers can expect is better execution from the Rockets — as much as we like to say the Lakers were better focused on defense the Rockets made it easy with horrible execution of their gameplan.
Usually, it is the losing team that needs to make adjustments, and Bill Bridges sent in what he would do if he were Rick Adelman (besides just be nicer to people):
1. High screen-roll each and every set play initiated by Brooks and trying to get dribble penetration. I mean every single play.
2. Yes. Aaron Brooks plays 48 minutes. Sorry, you can rest in the summer, AB.
3. Every shot is either a lay-up by AB, or dunk by a big off an AB pass, or an open 3.
4. The kick out by Brooks will result in ball-rotation to the weakside to a wide-open corner 3 by Battier. (As Kobe still wasn’t covering Battier in game 5). Ideally Battier will shoot every ball.
5. The Rockets will shoot at least 40 3′s, ideally over 50.
6. The perimeter players will chase down the inevitable long-misses off the 3′s. If they get the rebound. Repeat step 1.
7. On defense pack it in. Invite long jumpers from every perimeter player bar Kobe.
8. Double Kobe and Pau in the post. Let them kick out for open 3′s from everyone bar Kobe.
9. Do not double Bynum. Play him straight up with Hayes.
10. If 1 – 9 fails. Full-court trap ala Vivek Ranadive’s San Carlos girl’s team.
If you want to watch the game online, follow this link to the ESPN360 broadcast.