Texas football coach Darrell Royal popularized the phrase “Dance with one who brung you.” I guess this means that a coach should stick with the strategy that got you to the NBA playoffs. Unfortunately sometimes the data overwhelmingly indicates that a change in strategy is necessary.
In the 2011 NBA playoffs Dallas cruised to the Western Conference title with Peja Stojovich replacing Dirk and Barea coming off the bench. After three games against the Heat it was clear Peja was being clobbered by the Heat and Barea was performing poorly off the bench. Rick Carlisle had Caridnal replace Dirk and started Barea. The rest is history as the Mavs stormed back to win the title over the highly favored Heat.
The Grizzlies and Bulls stuck with certain regular season strategies and were rewarded with first round exits.
Memphis had great success during the regular season with Mayo coming in for Tony Allen. Against LAC, however, Mayo was destroyed by Nick Young. In 76 minutes with Young in and Mayo in and Allen out Memphis lost by 47 points. When Mayo was in and Allen and Young were out Memphis was +30 points in 85 minutes. When Allen was in and Mayo out and Young was in Memphis was up. This would seem to indicate that starting Mayo and having Allen come off the bench would have helped matters. The Grizz destroyed the Clips starting lineup (+47 points in 119 minutes( and was +17 with Mayo in against Clips starting lineup) so this would have appeared to make sense
The Bulls had to deal with the tragic loss of Rose. During the regular season Lucas was a great sub for Rose. With Rose out and Lucas in and Watson out Bulls played 9 ppg better than average. When Watson was in and Rose and Lucas were out Bulls played 2 ppg worse than average. So in the playoffs I would have started Lucas and brought Watson off the bench. Instead Watson got most of the minutes. Not surprisingly when Watson was in the Bulls played only 1 ppg bettert han average but when Lucas was in and Watson was out the Bulls were much better 6 ppg better than average.
Usually in the playoffs patterns emerge after 2 or 3 games that repeat themselves later in the series. The Mavs understood this and were rewarded with a title.
A tip: key to Philly Boston is the way Lavoy Allen has handled KG. Keep an eye on this!