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On playoffs, 3-pointers and prevent defense

June 23, 2012
STEVE BROWNLEE - Sports Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

While the NBA Finals are still fresh in my mind, I have a few observations about sports in general, basketball in particular and the pros to be the most exact.

- First off, the NBA and NHL ought to revisit the 2-3-2 system, where the team with the best record hosts the first two and last two games of a seven-game series and the "lesser" team the three in the middle.

Early-round 2-3-2 - rather than the traditional 2-2-1-1-1 - would help teams like the Detroit Red Wings and other teams in their division if they have to go to travel places like Los Angeles in the Western Conference rounds, since the NHL only takes a day off between games.

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On the other hand, the NBA likes to take two and even three days off between games, including the finals, so the two extra cross-country trips shouldn't be such a burden and is probably the most fair for the teams.

- Miami's Mike Miller making 7 of 8 3-pointers in Thursday's clinching Game 5 reminded me about similar feats pulled off by some of our high school players during the winter. But it came at the expense of making supposedly easier 2-pointers.

Without digging through game statistics from three months ago, I do recall one girls game, I believe at Negaunee, where three 2s were made in the first half of a game by both teams combined, while something like 10 or 12 3s were made.

At least one boys game had crazy numbers like that for the entire four quarters, where there were at least 50 percent more 3s made than 2s.

I remember mentioning these statistics to one observer and said I wasn't as surprised as he was. Why?

Three-pointers are almost always taken after the shooter sets his or her feet, while so many 2s taken in this day and age are running jumpers.

If shooters are moving laterally - side to side compared to the direction they're shooting - the shot's accuracy is usually compromised, while a move to the basket so often results in a shot that's too hard.

I really noticed this a year and a half ago after my return to writing about high school basketball for the first time since 1993.

It's not necessarily a bad thing. While the NBA and major colleges may have influenced the trend, I think more active defenses and uptempo offenses make taking a set jump shot more difficult than it used to be.

- And finally, the Heat proved the value of NOT playing a slowdown game, the NBA's version of the prevent defense. While on the road that night, I was listening to a radio broadcast for most of the second half, and they kept talking about how Miami didn't let up on the gas in the fourth quarter, not just trying to milk the clock by taking a desperation shot when the shot clock was about to expire.

On their game's biggest stage, maybe this will be a wake-up call not just in basketball, but in football, too, to quit playing the stupid prevent, which has been said about a million times over that the only thing it prevents is winning.

Or as was said in one of my favorite sports quotes ever by NFL coach Herman Edwards, "You ... play ... to ... win ... the ... game."

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is



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