One more pre-preview now just to chew on, then the REAL preview later on after the quotes are posted and digested. Just about when we start wringing our hands.
Oh what a game we got tonight!
Right now, boys and girls, let's talk about the coaches.
Mike D vs. Alvin Gentry.
From firsthand knowledge, I think we've got a good handle on these guys.
Mike's biggest PLUS as a coach is his singular philosophy. Given enough talent to make it work, he can get a team playing at a high level for a sustained amount of time. His system breeds success, for those lucky enough to be on the wagon.
I'm thinking of the Chorus Line ditty...
One singular sensation
Every little step they take
One thrilling combination
Every move that they make!
Jerry Sloan, Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson are examples of other coaches with a singular vision. Their teams always end up playing their way. They have an identity. Always.
Of course, it takes talent to make his system work. He had terrible results in his first stint in Denver, and in his first half-season coaching the Suns in 2003-04. Plus, he had terrible results for 2 years in NY, 2008-10.
Conversely, give him an All-Star and he can find success. Give him 2-3 all-stars, and you get wild success. Imagine if he had a whole team of all-stars. Maybe they'd win a gold medal or something...
But those teams have always come up short in the playoffs, for one reason or another. Sure, there were injuries and suspensions. And those missing players proved too tough to overcome, in some part because the strain was too great on the remaining players and/or deeper bench guys couldn't / didn't step up. But just think, if the rotation had been deeper, could the Suns have maybe weathered the storm of missing players a bit better?
A couple years ago, Dwight Howard was suspended for Game 6 of a playoff series. A very pivotal game and DPOY was out. What happened? Orlando inserted Marcin Gortat as starter, who pulled down 16 rebounds, and won the damn game.
Last year, Nash was hurting in the first round against Portland. He had 7 turnovers in the first quarter alone in Game 6. What happened? Dragic played a bigger role than usual, and led the team through the rough patch to help close out the series.
Another "con" on Mike's resume is his in-game coaching. The man is stubborn as a mule. We fans routinely lamented the fact that the Suns lost games to lesser teams in the playoffs because of gimmicks or strategies (hack-a-shaq, Bowen on Nash, etc). Mike D never changed his ways, regardless of the opponent and what they were doing on the court.
We all know Alvin is a great people-person and really can connect with his players. He knows how to make them accountable and keep them engaged. Its thanks to Alvin that 10-man rotation actually worked last year, and that they (the two units) worked so well together and rooted for each other.
He also is a great in-game strategist and made a huge difference for the Suns in last year's playoffs. For once, the Suns got the better of the team in terms of strategy and coaching. Putting Grant Hill on Miller full-court in the first round basically killed any momentum the Blazers had from the game 1 win. Switching and isolating Dragic and LB on the San Antonio bigs in the second round. Playing girlie zone in the Conference Finals to tie the series after 2 early, ugly losses. All this was Alvin.
Alvin's cons, though, are that sometimes he tries too hard to play all the guys. And of course, he doesn't have the singular vision that D'Antonio, Popovich, Sloan and Jackson have.
Who's the better coach?