A coach's job is very complex. The sheer number of factors that he's in charge of is daunting. His duties include rotations, adjustments, matchups, play-calling, injuries, personalities (egos), and of course pestering refs. But one item that is sometimes overlooked is clock management.
The margin of victory in these games is razor thin and a point or two either way obviously could mean the difference between winning and losing. I wanted to highlight a couple of plays last night where Doc just might have won us the game.
In the final minute of the first half, the Celtics were trailing by 9 points. Avery Bradley had a layup blocked by Jrue Holiday but the Celtics tracked down the loose ball. Doc calls time out with 50 seconds left on the clock. He instructs his team to go for the classic two-for-one.
The play called gets Pierce a clear path to the layup along the baseline which he converts for a bucket, but even better is the fact that he did it quickly - leaving 47 seconds on the clock. So even if the Sixers ran down the shot clock the Celtics would still get the ball back for the final play before the half.
Sure enough, Iggy missed a jumper, the Celtics rebounded and brought it up the court with 26 seconds left. Rondo found Kevin Garnett for a short jumper that he canned with just 4 seconds left. The Sixers only had time to push the ball up the court and rush a jumpshot that missed the mark. Just like that their lead had shrunk from 9 to 5 in 50 seconds. Credit Doc for calling the plays and credit the team for executing to perfection.
Next, is the end of the 3rd quarter. Very similar situation but this time the team doesn't need Doc to call the timeout.
Holiday misses a jumper with 37 seconds left, Rondo races up the court and finds Ray Allen for a layup. The whole things only takes 10 seconds so the Sixers will have to give the ball back at least one more time. This time the Sixers do the best they can by letting the shot clock run all the way down and make the bucket with just 7 seconds left. However, 7 seconds is all Rondo needs to get down the court and make the bucket before the buzzer sounds.
In both cases, an inexperienced or poorly coached team would have given away 4 points just due to poor clock management. The Celtics, however, executed to perfection and ultimately won the game by just 1 point.
This is just one example of a team that has played together under the same coach and everyone working in perfect concert with each other. Doc knows his stuff and has drilled it into his guys. Rondo especially has proven to be an apt pupil and acts as a coach on the court. But it takes everyone from the top down being alert and aware of the situation and then executing the best play with the what the defense is giving you.
Just a really great job managing the clock which in this case might have been the difference between winning and losing.