Greg Davis is a retired Army colonel who grew up in Oklahoma City, living next door to loquacious Oklahoma City University coach Abe Lemons. Greg became a big OU fan, now lives in Florida and also has adopted the Thunder as a team for his passion. I’ve quoted Greg before. He’s almost always got something interesting to say. And he did again this morning, after the Thunder’s 122-105 loss to the Spurs in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. I thought I would share it:
“Growing up next door to Abe, you heard conversations during the mowing-the-grass sessions on Saturday morning or the hang out the laundry on Saturday morning all year round -- my father and Abe actually performed this chore. We both had dryers, but their spouses liked the smell of sun and wind linens, so do I until this day. I also believe in the myth this practice keeps you healthier and free of germs as the sun kills any which survive the soap.
“A recurring theme would be Abe’s commentary how he would beat the Celtics with Auerbach if he coached some team like the Knicks or the Lakers. He would continually raise his voice why, after the proverbial Celtic beatdowns in Game 1, would coaches try to overanalyze and start as he called it, ‘grab bagging’ at a solution. He always said the best solution to a Game 1 horrible loss in a series was to make one cosmetic lineup change to show everyone you were doing what coaches were supposed to do, but instead, tell the players no practice, no shooting, nothing, just go home and relax, watch something other than sports, eat at home (don’t be seen out) and most of all, just get a good night’s sleep.
“He emphasized the main obstacle for a team to spring an upset in a series is to win a game before the series gets out of hand. Relax and just tell the team to be rested and be ready to play. If you do win Game 2, don’t be brilliant, just keep repeating the situation until it fails.
“With a bevy of great shooters, Lemons always observed the worst thing you can do to experienced, greatly talented players is overanalyze and over structure.
“Brooks should replace Collison with PJ III, tell the team to go home, rest, have a meeting to check injuries, questions and relax. The no practice or shooting rule should most apply to Durant and Westbrook.
“The Thunder have one chance. Get rested. And then on Wednesday, run, run, run, run. Attack, attack, attack, and wear this bunch down from the top. Duncan, Manu, and Parker, make their old bodies hurt. Don’t waste fouls with touches, if you foul, foul hard and knock them to the floor every time.
“And perhaps pray there is a set of NBA officials who can see and have the guts to call traveling. Duncan cannot score at all without shuffling his feet and walking. Ginobili, almost as bad. As for Ginobili, someone needs to put him about three rows up in the seats. Sick of his smirking.”
Thanks, Greg. First of all, let me say I denounce that stuff at the end. I love Ginobili. He’s one of my favorite players in the NBA. He was an old man who got off his basketball death bed TWO YEARS AGO in the West finals. Monday night Ginobili had zero points in the first half and 18 points in the second half. As for Duncan walking, maybe, who knows? They’re reffing Duncan the same as they did in the previous century. Can’t go asking to change things that never will change.
Lineup change for cosmetic reasons? I don’t know. I’m ambivalent. Scotty Brooks didn’t even play Perry Jones in Game 1 until the final three minutes, when hope was lost. Jeremy Lamb played some minutes (and was lost on defense), but not Perry Jones. Maybe it would work. Couldn’t hurt, I don’t suppose.
But the attitude? I sort of like the attitude. Shrug it off. Forget about it. Go to the Riverwalk, eat a Mexican dinner, make the rookies wear a sombrero. Do whatever is necessary to relax and forget your troubles.
The run-run-run concept? I like that, too. The Thunder was at its best in Game 1 when Russell Westbrook went into full attack mode, in the third quarter. This series is not lost. It looks dire, but it’s not lost. The Thunder wore down the Grizzlies. The Thunder wore down the Clippers. The Thunder must wear down the ancient Spurs.
The Thunder lost to the Clippers 122-105 in Game 1 and came back and won four of the next five. The Spurs are better than the Clippers, but still. Abe Lemons was right. The solution to most series problems is win a game.