ROI: Hollinger analysis heads in right direction, this time

As was mentioned here last week

Contrary to popular belief, coaching really does matter in the NBA, when it comes to distinguishing winners from losers, actually a great deal:

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Carlisle’s moves give Mavs Game 4 edge

Rick Carlisle said the players win the game, and in the big picture he’s right about that.

But in a series of razor-thin margins between the players on the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks, the slightest of adjustments can have an outsized impact. Three straight final-possession games have the Mavs and Heat justifiably tied at two apiece, and Tuesday it was the subtle adjustments Dallas’ coach made before and during the game that swung it.

We talked about Dallas’ superior depth heading into the series, but look at the box score and you’ll realize the Mavs were using a tighter rotation than Miami’s. Carlisle made a fairly complex series of adjustments that involved changing his starting backcourt so that he could entirely reupholster his forward rotation, and then threw a few more wrinkles into his special fourth-quarter sauce as the Mavs once again rallied late.

Ultimately, he was using a 7.5-man rotation, with Brian Cardinal as the 0.5 with “remove only in case of emergency” tattooed on his warm-ups. Dallas’ bench only played 71 total minutes, barely more than the 67 from Miami; only six Mavericks scored.

And Carlisle made it work.

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When basketball is played properly, at the highest level ofcompetition, it’s a game of highly specific ‘individual [i.e. micro] match-ups’ and ‘split-second decision-making’, by, both, players and coaches, involving:

[for example]

i. Player X from Team A vs Player Y from Team B;

ii. Teammate 1 with Teammates 2, and 3, and 4, and 5;

iii. Team A’s 5-man unit vs Team B’s 5-man unit;

iv. Team A’s specific strategies vs Team B’s specific strategies;

v. Team A’s specific tactics vs Team’s specific strategies;

rather than ‘macro-based statistical number crunching’ concerned with “averages” and “standard rates of performance”.

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