WASHINGTON - Game days usually go like this for NBA teams: Get to a gym (away team goes to host arena, home teams to practice site), go over a game plan for that night's game, get in some shooting and some drills, then leave after about an hour to rest up at home or a hotel. But some coaches around the league are getting away from the traditional game-day shootaround that has become commonplace in the NBA since coach Bill Sharman started them for the Lakers in 1971.
Boston coach Doc Rivers, who dropped shootarounds earlier this season, told the New York Times: "All of them, to a man, said, 'Wow, it took some getting used to, but I'm fresher. I love it.' So there it is."
The Sixers don't appear to be a team that is going to give up the game-day ritual any time soon.
"I think that the teams that are discussing dropping shootarounds are the teams that are winning," said Sixers' forward Elton Brand. "I think it prepares you for the game, for the game plan. If you're winning and your team can kind of worry about themselves a little bit more than the other team and they can dominate and win, then I can see there not being a need. With a younger team, like we've got, or a team that runs offensive sets that are harder to stop or new to someone, I think it's better to walk through them, get out of bed and walk through them."
The coaches who have changed their minds are doing so mostly to give the players more rest instead of having to be at a gym early in the morning, then back again for a game that night.
That is also the reason coaches don't like to give the players the morning off, for fear they will become lethargic come game time due to a full day of lounging.
"We've thought about that, but it's hard to give up," said coach Eddie Jordan. "Just off the top of my head I hate to think that guys would lay around all day and the first thing they do is get out of bed to come to the game. Probably that won't happen to most of the guys, but that's your first thought. So at the same time there's so much teaching, especially to a young team like ours that we need the teaching time. Even though it's not a high-level, up-and-down, but at least it's a good time to teach for about a half an hour, an hour."
Veteran guard Royal Ivey is still a fan of the get-together on the morning of games.
"I enjoy shootaround, you get in there and get a good sweat," Ivey said. "You can go over plays, go over our plays, go over the opponent's plays. I think it's a necessity.
"I think it's good, it gets you in the right mental state for a game. You get up in the morning you know you go to the shootaround and you've got to prepare. That's the main thing. Laying around in a bed, it has its pros and its cons, but I just enjoy it."
Last night Eddie Jordan decided against starting guard Lou Williams, who played in his second game after sitting out close to a month with a broken jaw. Williams entered the game with 5 minutes, 12 seconds remaining in the first quarter. He logged 32 minutes on the night, shooting 4-for-8 for 12 points to go with four rebounds and four assists.
"I talked with Lou and I know starting is important to him, important to a lot of guys who think they deserve to start," Jordan said. "But I don't want it to be a shock to the system to our starters to have Lou in the starting lineup [last night]. Eventually he will be in the starting lineup. But I think Willie [Green] has been playing pretty well, I think Jrue [Holiday] has been playing pretty well and those starters have played and dictated a tempo and played off each other and there's been good chemistry about them. I want Lou to get a couple more practices under his belt so his teammates can get used to playing with him again and he's used to playing with them again. It's just not a shock to the system that he's out there starting."
Some might argue that the team needs a shock to the system, since they lost eight of 10 without Williams in the lineup, but he clearly is not physically ready to be out there for extended minutes right now. Jordan said Williams had lost 6 to 8 pounds while having the jaw wired shut.
Williams possibly could be back as a starter on Saturday in Utah, teaming with Holiday. Allen Iverson is scheduled to come back on Monday in Portland after resting his arthritic knee for what will be four games. It will be interesting to see who Jordan starts in the backcourt then.