Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts discusses his team's defense, their record in close games, and managing expectations during an interview with Adam Bjaranson and Michael Holton on Blazers Courtside.
Here's a partial transcript of the interview, which was conducted on Monday. Video of the interview is right here.
Why does team look different now compared to earlier in the season?
Well the first thing I would say is that we were remarkably healthy in the first half of the season. we kept the same starting lineup throughout the season, we didn't have any injuries to speak of. Since then, LaMarcus [Aldridge] has missed some games, Joel Freeland was a big part of our bench. We don't know when he's going to come back. That would be the first change from the beginning of the season to now.
Do recent struggles change focus in practice?
We've been very consistent to our approach to our team throughout the season. We watch video 80 percent of the time after games. Most of the times we'll watch video of our latest game. It's a constant process. As the season goes along there's a little bit less because you really don't add that much more, there's tweaking here and there. At the beginning of the season, there's more to it. Between fatigue and ... you kind of taper it off as the season goes along.
As the season goes on, and you're playing teams, we played Golden State for the third time or San Antonio for the fourth time, you have a better understanding of the team's personnel. You have more of a reference point because you played them relatively recently. You always want to commit to your principles. Whether it's at practice reviewing your shell defense or 5-on-0 offense. You always need to review and refresh, make sure the team stays with the foundation and the basis of what this team is about.
Struggles with pick-and-roll defense
Pick and roll defense is a big part of the game. The next day, or that evening when you watch the [Warriors] game film and you realize Steph Curry hit two shots off of a pick-and-roll, they were both threes. He only hit two shots off the pick-and-rolls, the other shots he hit, we switched and he hit them one-on-one. Steph Curry basically didn't score the last five minutes of the game, he had one technical free throw.
Other things: offensive rebounds, transition, there were other things that ended up costing us the game in the last five minutes. Certainly Steph Curry put on a show in the middle of the second half. We didn't do enough of the other things at the end of the game to win the game.
It's very easy, and I've said this a few times, the narrative completely changes on a one-point win versus a one-point loss, and the reality is that everything is in between. Had we won the game last night by a point, we would be talking about all the good things we did, we won the game without LaMarcus, the offense is clicking, the passing and shooting, and we lose by a point and it's the other things. As a coach you want to maintain perspective, sometimes it's difficult.
In wins you try and correct and in losses, a lot of it is, whatever message, it's all about the delivery and how it's going to be received. Everybody knows we've lost a lot of close games to good teams lately. On the season, on the whole, we're over 50 percent in those situations. It's important that we realize it's about the process, it's the marathon of the NBA and we need to continue to go towards the end of the season and the playoffs.
Feeling weight of increased expectations after hot start
Adversity is part of it. This is tough. Nobody enjoys the losing, losing close games. I would like to thing we're being very competitive, playing very competitive basketball against some of the best teams in the league. We're coming up short now, we won those games early in the season. It's a difficult thing to manage, the expectations. I'm glad the expectations are on us. It is and it was very exciting. We want to maintain that. Our expectations of ourselves have grown. We have 15 of 16 games to go and every night we've got to roll it out there, expect to win and play good basketball.
How do you blow off steam after games?
I don't know if blow off steam would be the right terminology. I decompress, have a glass of wine, watch some television, enjoy some time with my wife, relax, know that I have to go to work the next day.
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