James Worthy: Playoffs Don’t Always Go As Planned
Seeing Miami give up their home court advantage to the Spurs in game one took me back to my first playoff experience vs the Celtics.
I missed my rookie season playoffs due to injury. I was able to recover and make a contribution in my second season and into the playoffs. Back in those days the format was 2-2-1-1-1. Obviously, if you had home court advantage and won all your home games you were champs. The strategy for us that year was to break that advantage by winning a game on the road and then winning our home games.
In 1984, the Boston Celtics had home court advantage and we strolled into Beantown and won game one. Most of the time you would settle for a split (1-1). In game two, we had a chance to go up 2-0 after Kevin McHale missed two free throws.
We took possession and Magic threw the ball to me. I tried to make a cross court pass to Byron Scott. Unfortunately, Gerald Henderson of the Celtics anticipated my pass, intercepted the pass and scored a layup, which I came very close to blocking.
The game went into overtime and we lost game two. Had we won game two, and returned to L.A. up 2-0, I do believe we would have won the championship that year. We lost the series in 7 and to this day I think about my fourth ring that got away. 🙁
The Heat have the biggest challenge since they assembled this team. Losing home court to the experienced, disciplined Spurs will prove to be difficult to overcome. Making coaching adjustments spontaneously is key to keeping or reversing the momentum of the game. Popovich is the master at deviating from his original plan and coaching on the fly as he sees the game progress.
But the Spurs can’t get too comfortable either. Both teams will have to play at their highest levels. They must limit the types of mental errors they might wind up regretting well into retirement.
‘Til next time,
Big Game James Worthy is an NCAA champ, 3-time NBA champ and an MVP with the Los Angeles Lakers, a hall of famer, philanthropist and an Analyst for Time Warner Cable SportsNet. For more information or to contact Big Game for an appearance visit www.jamesworthy42.com/contact.