Sunday, August 23, 2015

Depth, Inner Toughness Pivotal In Houston/LA series

From the outside looking in, the Houston/Los Angeles Clippers series preached the potency of collective resilience.

Unbridled, passionate toughness and augmented physicality also played a monstrous role throughout the series. It added a layer of thrill and entertainment value, as well.

For more than a fleeting moment, finally, the hard-hitting and physical NBA brand of the 1980s and 1990s resurfaced.

 The rough-and-tumble game was back. There was purified and good-natured excessive aggression,  cold hard stare downs. There were plenty of extracurricular shoves for good measure. Matt Barnes assumed the role of playground bully, relentlessly trying to infect James Harden's on-court psyche.

 It was refreshing to see. It replaced an immensely softer modern day game-- one in which blood rivals are suddenly tight friends, buddying up on social media and training together in the off-season.

Every bucket must be earned on this stage, where foes are no longer to be confused with friends after the calendar strikes April 29.

I half-expected to see Charles Oakley and Ewing clotheslining the shit out of Scottie Pippen just as Pip blurred out on a fast break.

 Or , even better...I envisioned a wild skirmish for a loose ball erupting in a bench-clearing Derek Harper v.s. JoJo English style melee. 

The sight yellow-clad security guards locking up a super-heated John Starks' arms and  resurfaced in my memory. All the were spilled over in this series, as the magnitude of post-season basketball was expressed.

We're talking  all 12 rounds. Bar room brawling toughness. Tat-drenched Brooklyn Dyke-esque toughness, with nary an iota of fear traceable.

L.A. was stacked in waves and waves and waves. They possessed an overwhelming amount of oceanic depth, fortified by veteran leadership. 

-Buoyed by a suddenly all-empowering scorer in Blake Griffin, the Clips decimated Houston's frontline. 

-Griffin's rapid offensive evolution was notable. He unveiled a suddenly-reliable mid-range game, complete with the nifty new step back in his enhanced toolbox.

Compute this with the sky-rising athleticism his game's always been predicated on, BG shredded Houston's front line on thorough forays to the rim.

The depth surfaced, as a seasoned LAC bench was pivotal. Battle-tested spark plugs Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes became sturdy knockdown options during crucial transitions. They refuse to engage the idea of being on a race against time.

Both Crawford and Barnes were key figures on that beyond abysmal 23-59, 2005-06 N.Y. Knicks team. 

That dysfunctional, piecemeal core floundered mightily. The collapse ended up destroying Long Beach, N.Y. product Larry Brown's would-be warrior-like return. 

Smeared by the very ugly, very public verbal feud between Stephon Marbury and Larry Brown (Supranowitz must have been washing down 10 Xanax each morning just to keep his head from exploding), this was intolerable basketball. 

In fact, that forgettable Knick team was actually worse than the 2014-15 triangle clusterfuck, considering the 05-06 team's pieces.

The only piece of potential of team was the rookie triumvirate of Nate Robinson, Channing Frye, and David Lee. 

The trio brought a refreshing level of electric chemistry. 

They provided a much-needed energy injection, pumping a microscopic morsel of life into a pulseless, left-for-kill Garden.

Robinson had the spurt-ability and high-energy style. This rendered him an explosive scorer at times, albeit a trigger-happy one.

The team wallowed well under the mediocrity line.

 Frye came out of Arizona with a bang, pulling off theatrical finishes. Yet the quiet kid never panned out in the big city, flaming out under New York's pressure cooker. 

Lee became the fan-favorite and indisputable program poster boy. A high-flying hustler who developed a dependable 18-footer mid-way through his N.Y. stay, Lee's evolution into a steady double-double threat had NYC buzzing and praying for an NYK revival. 

Back to the clips/rockets...

 -The good ol' NBA days resurfaced when Dwight Howard committed that loud flagrant foul on Griffin. This heated exchange occurred during a powerful drive to the rim, during the final stages of a jarringly ugly blowout. It was clear, at this juncture, the exasperation/negative energy was soaring. 

 With that, Houston found an inner strength--one only elite teams are capable of tapping into. They discovered a resolve. A mental moxie. This helped them stave off LAC's offensive superiority and overwhelming veteran presence.

Bouncing out of a 3-1 ditch and storming back from a 19-point deficit (on the road) requires a hardened level of mental stability.

As any coach or fake AAU handler worth their salt will tell you, quelling the run is the first step to jolting out of this maddening funk.

If the opponent is runnng roughshod on your squad, ramping the ballooning spurt up to the point of humiliation, you can't let your interior aggravation or a deafening crowd bother you. Your primary focus must be solely the next possession.

Your mindset must be on a quick route to the rim, the easiest way to rattle off a 6-0 mini run. Anything to overcome the rash of turnovers or sloppy play and quell the exasperating drought.

If you can keep cutting the deficit by playing on instinct, chances are you will lessen the damage. You will increase the likelihood of staging a potential comeback and rally.

Do you have an inner strength? Is your winning mentality strong enough to resurface, even during intensified turbulence or in the midst of an agonizing blowout?

These questions will help you cultivate your identity in a highly-pressurized situation. Young ballers take note...

Even while watching games, you must make a personal connection to what's going out there on the floor so you would understand your role in a particular situation.