"Sometimes when you win, you really lose, and sometimes when you lose, you really win, and sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie, and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic mechanism, from which one extracts what one needs." -- White Men Can't Jump.
I know it's tough Pels' fans. I know you hate Monty right now because this is all clearly his fault. I know you want to find the nearest flux capacitor, attach it to your Camry and go back in time to dissuade Dell Curry before he has a chance to conceive whatever that monster is in the number 30 Warriors jersey (all this is assuming you can get your Camry up to 88 mph). But sometimes the best medicine is the bitterest pill to swallow. In my humble opinion, last night's collapse was the best loss in franchise history.
When it comes to playoff basketball, nothing comes easy. The playoffs are for the mature, the poised, and the battle tested. The 2014-2015 New Orleans Pelicans are none of those things, yet. Name one team that had an easy rise to the top. No one summits the NBA playoffs without being hardened by bitter defeat. You could say Tim Duncan's Spurs but almost everything about San Antonio is an anomaly (including how disappointing the Alamo is). However, even the mighty Spurs had years of tragic playoff failures before a David Robinson injury gifted them Tim Duncan.
Game 3 was the kind of loss that will haunt these players for the entire off-season. For months, they will remember how they let a game they so thoroughly dominated for three quarters slip through there fingers. This wasn't a random Tuesday night loss in game number 35 of the regular season. No, real lessons will be learned from last night's loss. This was a huge lead given up on their home floor in front of the entire basketball world. And it was great!
What wins in the playoffs is effort and attention to detail -- the simple things. The Pelicans had plenty of effort on Thursday night but they lacked the attention to detail that has been missing all season. We watched them blow assignments and fail to execute time and time again during the regular season, but this might finally be the straw that makes the camel listen. It's much easier for Monty (or whomever the coach is next year) to preach the importance of blocking out when he can point to the film of you giving up 10 offensive rebounds as you faded from playoff relevancy. Players can brush off such things during the NBA's marathon regular season. The difference in the playoffs is every relative, friend, gold digging women, and yes man entourage member (looking at you Turtle) was watching this time.
Last nights loss forever etched 5 lessons into the Pelicans minds.
- You can't relax with a lead.
- Details like blocking out and setting good screens matter.
- Make your free throws.
- Sloppy passing leads to big fat losses.
- Make your DAMN free throws.
Do any of those seem like a new issue to you? Didn't think so. Teams that win in the playoffs do the little things well consistently. Game 3 will teach the Pelicans players that they can no longer ignore the details because in reality the details are almost all the matter in the playoffs. Even small things like flopping. I know you hate it, I do too, but the Warriors picked up key charges and offensive fouls by simply falling down without being touched. Flopping is evil but in the playoffs its a necessary evil, just ask Rick Fox, Robert Horry, or any of the other great floppers of history that have a case full of hardware to show for it. Did you see one Pelicans player do that? Nope. That is the kind of veteran savvy that can only be learned from experience.
Sports may be the ultimate microcosm for life. How many of the biggest lessons of your life were learned from some great triumph? I'd be willing to bet not many. The events that truly force us to change are the epic failures that life is so good at handing out. You'll keep showing up late until you get fired, you won't study until you finally get that F you partied so hard for, and you won't pay attention to details until you give up a 20 point lead in the four quarter on national television.
The G.O.A.T, Michael Jordan to the laymen, once said "I've failed over, and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed." Hopefully, this will be the moment when the young Pelicans grow up and realize that they've got to learn to play the right way at some point. If that lesson is received, then Game 3 might have truly been one of the biggest wins in the history of this franchise. So really the question that should come out of last night's game is.....What did you learn?
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