Monday, April 20, 2009

Work Now, Watch Later

The Trail Blazers usually get together the day after a game at the practice facility to watch film. Players and coaches meet as a team and in groups separated out by position to go over what went well and what didn’t, and depending on the ratio of good to bad, it’s either an enjoyable overview of a well played game or a tortuous reminder of a subpar performance. Either way, it’s a good opportunity to learn from the game before and apply those lessons learned to the game ahead.

But after Saturday night’s 108-81 loss to Houston, coach Nate McMillan switched up the routine. Rather than going over every detail of a game most on the team described as their worst of the season, McMillan opted to run a regular practice, sans film session.

“We’ll watch film (Monday),” said McMillan. “I thought today we needed to get into the gym and get to work. It wasn’t about the film today as opposed to getting out and getting in a good hard practice.”

McMillan’s decision to hold off film for an extra day would seem to have a couple benefits. First, it allows the team an extra day to put Saturday night’s blowout behind them. While there’s undoubtedly much to be learned by watching Yao go 9 for 9 and Aaron Brooks carve up the Blazers defense, it’s probably more important at this point for the players to focus on themselves at this juncture. Figure out what they need to do as Trail Blazers before addressing what they need to do to stop the Rockets.

Putting off film for an extra day also keeps the loss fresh in their minds for Tuesday’s game. The word “embarrassing” was uttered in the locker room more than a few times after Saturday’s game, and I wouldn’t be surprised if McMillan wanted his team to remember what that embarrassment felt like before talking to the floor of the Rose Garden Tuesday night. Using that loss as motivation is one of the few ways to turn an otherwise negative game into a positive.

Finally, this team simply hasn’t had an opportunity to get in much time on the practice court over the last month. Prior to Saturday night’s game, the Blazers had played 13 games in 26 nights; a game every other day. Factor in travel, and that doesn’t leave much time for scrimmage.

“We haven’t practiced in the last few weeks because of the schedule and some injuries,” said McMillan. “I just felt that we needed to work today.”

After the way Saturday night went down, it’s probably safe to say putting in work was something the players could look forward to.

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