As I’ve sat here watching the NBA playoffs over the last week or so a few things have become apparent:
1) Talent makes a difference. Just ask the Bulls how they did without having Derrick Rose in the lineup.
2) Strength and confidence make a difference. With the modern game being so fast and so physical, the players who are weak and lack confidence look scared on the court.
3) Little things matter. Numerous games come down to a single play or two at crunch time. While the entire game is obviously not decided at that one moment (2 points count for 2 points at any point in the game), you can often see a teams habits begin to show in the last 3 or 4 minutes of the game.
During the last few minutes of a game you rarely see teams make a run. Instead at that point you see teams resort to what they know best. It’s also at this time that you begin to see the little things: character or players, mental and physical toughness, confidence, and an assortment of skills that go along with those habits.
As the Celtics and Pacers game wound down last night, I couldn’t help but to think that the Pacers were very even-keeled. Sure the Celtics kept making mini-runs and cutting the lead back to 3 or 4 on multiple occasions, but the Pacers just kept plugging away. A West bucket in the lane (with a nice left hand I might add) was a key play in the game. At that point in the game it would have been easy for the Pacers to faulter: rush a play, dribble too much to create a shot on their own, or any number of things. Instead they casually executed a set play, made the proper read and delivered for an easy 2 points.
Your take away from this should be to build good habits. Habits will keep you moving in the right directions when things aren’t going as well as you would like. Habits will keep things in perspective when another team is making a run and you need a bucket and a defensive stop. Habits will set a solid screen even when you’d like to just go through the motion. Habits will box out even when it’s not convenient.
There are so many good things that habits will do for you and your team that it’s hard to sum it up in a brief article. So with that I’ll leave you with a little bit of homework, don’t worry it’s easy! Spend a couple minutes thinking about all of the things that you hate doing (related to basketball) because they’re tedious; now start doing them all of the time: good screens, grabbing loose balls, ball faking, boxing out, making sure you talk, know foul situations, etc. I promise you that it doesn’t take more time, just effort. You can be the worst player on your team and still make a difference.
Last night was an example of how habits can win you and your team basketball games. It’s also how you can get noticed by coaches and earn scholarships, get more playing time, and be a good teammate.