Combatting Monotony with Competition
Enough with the delay, the Pacers are ready for Game 3 on Saturday. They had Wednesday off, which allowed their bodies to rest up and their minds to refocus. Now after two days of practice, they’re ready for the ball to be tossed up.
“We’ve had an enjoyable but intense last couple days of practice,” Vogel said Friday. Once again, much of practice was spent on ball security and fine-tuning their defense.
After the team came together at mid-court to wrap up practice, they shot free throws and then some competition broke out. Paul George, George Hill, Gerald Green and Lance Stephenson challenged one another to see who could make a shot while seated on the bench. Hill came out victorious.
On Thursday, the guards went through a drill post-practice to lighten the mood. Associate head coach Brian Shaw, who’s notorious for talking trash to the guards and challenging them to shooting contests, headed to the north end of main floor at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. His challenge today was for each guy to get better with every move they made.
Coach Shaw led them through ‘King of the Court,’ a 1-on-1 game that limits the number of dribbles for the ball handler. Make the shot and the offensive player stays. Miss, and the defense moves to offense and the offense heads to the back of the line. First player to a number–usually seven–wins.
“It’s a part of our offense that we just don’t get enough individual time to work on during practice and it’s something that gets the competitive juices flowing.” Coach Shaw said.
It also gets them each to sweat and compete while they have fun and play for pride. Now in the playoffs, contact work is limited so those 15 minutes afforded them a small opportunity to battle. As this was going on, Shaw watched their footwork and helped them clean up what he called “excessive waste.”
“Why even fake it if you’re going to wait for him to go down,” Shaw said of one of the items he addressed. “Just take the shot the defense gives you. If there’s too much space, raise up and shoot it. Now, you make a couple of those, and when you go up to shoot it, they’re going to contest it and now you can go by them. There’s a mythology behind it all that they don’t always think about it.”
Whether the players recognize it or not, it’s more than just a fun way to conclude practice. Shaw believes it’s a good two-way drill because it works on competition, footwork, and the knowledge of how to defend those situations. Soon enough, players at the other end of the floor – the bigs – took notice and wanted in.
“You saw the bigs came down to our end, David [West] and Miles [Plumlee], and they wanted to get in it too,” said Shaw. “It can get monotonous when we’re just going over plays and trying to clean up things that they did against us in the last game.”