09 April 2009
Is it possible for a head coach to win Coach of the Year honors after a single game? If so, you might as well give Nate McMillan the trophy after what Portland did on Wednesday night in San Antonio.
Let’s forget for a minute how the Blazers rallied from being down 19-points in the first half to the Spurs, and get into why this win was one of the best coached games by McMillan of the season.
He drew up timely plays, both during the game and coming out of timeouts. He kept a tired young team with a very poor record on the road – let alone against Western Conference teams who are playoff bound – focused and hungry on the end of a back-to-back. And in a very non-McMillan-like move, he let Greg Oden play-on after picking up two fouls. It paid off.
But let’s step back here and look at the big picture.
Sorry Mike Brown. Sorry Rick Adelman. Sorry Doc Rivers.
Let’s be real here. If McMillan isn’t on the shortlist to take home C.O.Y, then he certainly should be.
Brown has LeBron James and Mo Williams. Adelman has Yao, Ron Artest, and Shane Battier even with an oft- injured Tracy McGrady. And Doc Rivers – well, fugetaboutit.
Here’s what McMillan has worked with this season:
The second youngest team in the league playing in a ridiculously stacked West. A third-year All-Star (Brandon Roy) few back East have even heard of. A young power forward said to shy away from big games (LaMarcus Aldridge). Two guys nearly every “fan” wanted to trade the months and weeks leading up to the NBA trade deadline (Travis Outlaw and Sergio Rodriguez). A point guard critics didn’t think could lead the team (Steve Blake). And a relegated back-up center turned starter (Joel Przyzbilla) who should have been starting from the get-go.
But wait, there is more. Four rookies: there’s a kid from France (Nic Batum) who barely made the team out of Vegas Summer League and has since started at small forward. A kid who is a human can of Red Bull (Jerryd Bayless) that barely sniffs the court. The kid who got laid-out hard by Trevor Ariza (Rudy Fernandez). And the big kid (Greg Oden) who has overcome injury after injury after injury after injury.
All Nate McMillan has done is guided them to 50 wins (and counting) this season and returned Portland to the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.
Besides that, McMillan hasn’t done too much.
pic via: espn
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