Preparing Without Your Star Player

I was in the office early Friday morning and had Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals on replay from the night before. The now infamous “Cramp Game” had a historically unique set of circumstances for both teams to overcome. With the air conditioning unit out of commission in San Antonio, both teams had to play and persevere in extreme temperatures.

I was explaining these circumstances to our Head Women’s Soccer Coach, Adam Cohen, who had not watched the game live. After evaluating the situation for just a few minutes, Coach Cohen asked “I wonder how much they practice these end of game situations without LeBron?”

Great question!

LeBron James is notorious for not committing fouls. Heat beat writer Brian Windhorst noted recently in a story that “during a rather prolific period last season, James once went 250 consecutive minutes without being called for a foul. During a two-week stretch in 2009, he was called for a total of three fouls in nine games, including five consecutive games without drawing a whistle. A full week of NBA basketball without a single foul.” Between LeBron rarely being injured and almost never even being in foul trouble, it is easy to see why Erik Spoelstra can plan on LeBron always being available down the stretch.

“I wonder how much they practice these end of game situations without LeBron?”

Great question.

I don’t have the answer for this question, only Coach Spoelstra and the Heat truly know what their level of preparation without LeBron is.

However, do I know at the college level with injuries, illnesses, quick whistles and dealing with 18-22 year olds who make bad decisions at times, it is advised that coaches prepare their teams for end of game situations without their star player.

If LeBron may not be available for the Heat then surely no team is safe from having to close without their top performer.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo