No Holds Barred Practice Sparked Blazers' Winning StreakMany people have tried to figure out how the Portland Trail Blazers suddenly became so good. Jason Quick of The Oregonian offers a good answer:
The history books will show that the Trail Blazers' winning streak started on Dec. 3, when Travis Outlaw made a last-second shot at Memphis.
But to the Blazers players and coaches, the roots of the streak really started two days earlier, at a community center in San Antonio, where an edgy and downtrodden Blazers team practiced.
It was where Martell Webster and Joel Przybilla fought. Where Steve Blake kicked and then threw a chair. Where Brandon Roy exchanged sharp words with teammates. And where Channing Frye spoke up and made a promise.
Quick explains that Coach Nate McMillan put in two special practice rules that day: (1) no defensive switching on pick and rolls, forcing defenders to fight aggressively through picks; (2) ballhandlers were only allowed one dribble, thereby encouraging more player and ball movement on offense. McMillan knew exactly what he was doing when he made these changes: "The practice was basically set up for a fight to happen. We were talking about pressuring. We were talking about being physical. We were talking about grabbing. And...we got into a fight, a couple tempers flared and a couple of other things happened."
After the Portland players showed such intensity battling against each other, McMillan pointedly implored them to play that way against the rest of the league--and, since that day, they have.
posted by David Friedman @ 11:11 AM