What a first day in the NBA playoffs. Lebron took over late, Chris Paul came alive for the come from behind win and the Jazz got a huge road win. But the focus of this post will be the epic battle between the Spurs and Suns.

First off, just want to say that it was a truly classic game, both teams left it all out there which is all we can ask from our players as coaches. There are many things that went right and wrong for both teams, but in my opinion, it was the little things that the Spurs did and the Suns didn't that made the difference.

The one thing that stuck out in my mind in the 2nd OT was how easy it was for Ginobili to score. Everyone knows the scouting report on Ginobili is that he likes going left. If that is the case, you would've expected Suns defenders, Raja Bell in particular, to play Ginobili by shading him right. Here are the last 3 offensive possessions for the Spurs in the 2OT,

In the first sequence, Bell actually plays it pretty good. You can see that he is forcing Ginobili to his right. Ginobili goes right and drives into the lane. It is Shaq who is avoiding his 6th foul that allows Ginobili to get a floater over top of him,

But these next 2 sequences show Bell in a flat parallel stance allowing Ginobili to choose his favorite side, the left. And consequently scores the 2 final scores, including the game winner,

In this last one, the game winner, you can actually see Steve Nash near the bottom come up to help. Clearly Steve was expecting Bell to force him right where Nash would be there to make Ginobili shoot a tough jumper or pick up his dribble,


Like I said, there were many mistakes, but they went both ways. The Spurs had some turnovers, let through some big offensive rebounds like the big one to Shaq in 2OT, but the Suns had all the advantages leading twice by 3, one in regulation, one in 1OT. Those are situations that you should win, and there is no excuse for not closing the deal. If there's any solace for Suns fans, they are a resilient bunch, if they win game 2, they'll have the upper hand going back to Phoenix.

Now that most of you coaches are in the off-season, a skill development video you might want to take a look at is Kevin Sutton's DVD on 10 Drills For Player Evaluation. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk hoops with other coaches.