Style over substance…or is it the other way around?

I can only imagine what had to be going through Erik Spoelstra's head during the closing minutes of Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Full disclosure: I turned the game off with just over 7:30 left on the clock in the fourth quarter. I missed out on one of the biggest comebacks in NBA Finals history. It was after the Dwayne Wade three-point shot from the right corner followed by an immediate Dallas timeout when I declared the game over. Well apparently, so did the Miami Heat players. I ‘witnessed’ Lebron celebrating by fake punching Dwayne Wade in the chest (right in front of the Dallas bench) after Wade hit the three. Dwayne Wade held his follow through hand up excessively way too long, the crowd was going completely wild and players were hugging and giving each other high fives. I was actually waiting for some fireworks and confetti to start falling (sorry, couldn’t resist). But the game was over at this point. Fifteen point lead, at home, and you have two of the top players in the league on your team…logic was telling me that the game was over. I turned the game off (to watch a video) and about 30 minutes later, I turn the game back on and noticed the score was tied with just under a minute left. I couldn’t believe it. It seems I never learn my lesson. So yes, you can add another one to the list.

I had an old coach tell me before, “Kevin, let me remind you this one time and one time only. Style points get you the same amount of points on that scoreboard than regular plain old boring points get you.” Translation: Try that circus shot again and your ass will be sitting next to me on the bench. But what constitutes a ‘style’ point? My definition is taking a shot that is completely unnecessary or unnecessarily exerting any energy when performing a move. I call it just wasting energy. Most, if not all players, love to get them. Most coaches despise them. Almost every coach will admit to a man that they could do without style points.

Hey Scottie, did MJ ever allow his team to blow a 15 point 4th quarter lead with less than 8 minutes to go in an NBA playoff game? Thought so.

Yes, I am aware that style points could be momentum changer in some situations. I am aware that it could get the crowd going, teammates pumped, and even make a highlight on the local news or YouTube. But for coaches, style points are nothing more than high risk, low reward. This was the Miami Heat’s downfall in their Game 2 fourth quarter collapse. To steal a line I heard from Doug Gottlieb on ESPN this morning, the Heat took too many ‘dagger’ threes. They got caught with their hand in the cookie jar by taking too many style points and completely forgetting what makes them so great in the first place. What makes this team flat out scary sometimes is unselfish ball-movement and aggressive drives to the basket. Instead, Lebron kept the ball up top dribbling like a mad man as if he was back in Cleveland only to take unnecessary threes along with the rest of his teammates. I took a look at the shot chart this morning and saw that Lebron James did not attempt a single shot inside the three-point line during the last three minutes of the game. In these first two games, Lebron James has only six free-throw attempts. As a team, 41% of Miami’s 73 FG attempts were three-pointers (that’s 30 three-point shots for you math wizards). That folks, is way too many, even at the NBA level.

While watching the Sportscenter highlights of the game, it seemed to me that Miami was more concerned of adding to a highlight reel than keeping things simple and just executing the offense, as I am sure the Miami coaches were telling the players during the timeouts. But you have to be coachable at every level of basketball because a coach might see or feel something that a player out there in the middle of all the action can’t necessarily sense. But a coach can only do so much. A coach can only bring a horse to water. It’s up to the player to listen and execute. Miami did get a lot of style points last night, but in the end, they just didn’t get enough points period.


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