I watched part of tonight's game through TNT's broadband all-access channel and it was fantastic. It officially debuted tonight for Game 1 between the Lakers and the Spurs. I think TNT has been doing a superb job with its basketball coverage for the past 10 years and they just keep getting better and better.

What TNT has done is basically use 4 cameras and stream them live over the internet. The 4 cams in use are:

1. 2 player cams that basically follow a player around the court wherever they go, tonight it was mainly Kobe and Ginobili/Duncan
2. The Robo cam which sits on top of the backboard near the shot clock
3. The Arena Robo cam which is an overhead cam that moves with the play along a string
4. Mosaic, which has the other 4 cams in 1 view

Anyways, using the Robo cam, you could get a really get a good look at the free-throws. We've all seen it on TV, Tim Duncan's awkward way of free-throw shooting. Duncan has struggled with his free-throw shooting his entire career. The older he gets, the more unorthodox it becomes, here are a few sequences from the first half (apologize for the first clip, the audio doesn't match the video very well),

Duncan's Free-Throw Technique:

Free-throw shooting, or any form shooting, in my opinion is one of those fundamental skills that must be taught early when kids are young so that they can develop the correct technique. Unfortunately, for Duncan, he didn't play organized basketball until late in his high school years, so the basic motor skills of good form shooting were never engrained into him. Basically, it's like when you learn a language, it's always easier to learn it when you're a young child, then trying to pick up a new language as an adult.

Well, lets take a look at his shooting a little more closely. First, I don't like the pigeon stance because I think it's very unbalanced and restricts the natural motion of the shot moving from the feet to knees to body to arms. Next, we look at his ball position. Duncan keeps the ball so low, almost at his knees while he lines it up. I think this ball position makes it extremely difficult to lineup your hands pre-shot and results in a much longer shot release having to bring the ball all the way up through his body. Finally, there's his pause. Again, I think the long pause results in a jerky motion,

Duncan shot 6-for-10 on FTs tonight, just around his average. Duncan has usually shot in the 60% range throughout his career, curiously it is higher this season over 70% but he's making almost 2 less attempts. He hasn't always had the unorthodox technique, and the awkward pause is a newer development. Phil Jackson isn't known to be a guy to call something like this out, but I would bet anything that Duncan probably violates the 10 second rule to shoot each free throw most times. I remember, back in the 90s when Karl Malone would take a long pause and opposing fans would count down the seconds out loud to distract him.


I didn't talk much about the actual game. The Lakers use a fantastic 4th quarter rally to come back from as much as 20 points. I think the Lakers had just played so poorly in the 1st half, and the fatigue of the 7th game from the Spurs finally took its toll in the 2nd half. The Lakers were able to take advantage of fresher legs into the 4th.

Free throws got you singing the blues? Take a look at Ed Palubinskas's DVD on Becoming a Great Shooter. Coach Palubinskas has worked with professionals such as Lisa Leslie, Shaquille O'Neal and recently Lauren Jackson. To discuss this and many more of your favorite basketball topics, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk with other coaches from around the world.