Sports is all about developing proper habits and being able to repeat them efficiently at a high level. In the NBA, they practice a countless number of hours as individuals. They practice hundreds of times, play 82 games and then some if they make the Playoffs. They are fed scouting reports and watch hours upon hours of film. Yet when it’s the crucial moments of a game we all ask “why did ____ do that?” without thinking about the tendencies that a NBA team or player develops over the course of a season.
Yes, the Oklahoma City Thunder are sick. They blew a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference Finals because of – yep – tendencies. For 3 of the first 4 games OKC did everything “right”. KD and Russ shared the ball – they trusted their teammates – and did things folks have said they needed to do. But by Game 5 it was back to the old tendencies. KD threw up 31 shots and Russ wasn’t too far behind with 28 attempts. The next highest was Ibaka at 10 attempts (32 total for guys not wearing “35” or “0′). Games 6 and 7 played out much the same and we saw the Thunder “choke” as most like to call it in sports.
Call it what you want but I didn’t see a team choking. I saw a team reverting back to the tendencies we knew them to have. 2 star players trying to do most of the work alone. They couldn’t shake what has been in them – 8 seasons for KD and 7 for Westbrook – their NBA careers. Those two have played the same through injuries and other setbacks. Now it’s time for them to look at those tendencies and decide if they want to try a different path or stay the same. Lucky for them it’s only basketball.