Reason #1 to fire Mazzulla: He was “out-coached” by Erik Spoelstra in the Eastern Conference Finals
Why it’s wrong: What does that even mean?
I could journey across the earth, through the heavens, and circumnavigate the solar system before someone would be able to adequately explain to me what it means to be “out-coached.” Those two words get thrown around to criticize a coach whose team has lost the game, somehow implying that they were bested in the game’s “Battle of Coaching.”
But I’d argue that a coach’s decisions during a game do very little to actually impact its outcome, barely ever interacting with the opposing coach’s efforts. Preparation in the days leading up to a game is where most adjustments are made, save for some defensive matchups or inbounds plays.
In football, the defensive coaches attempt to counter the offensive plays and vice versa, but basketball is not so polar. Teams may have several defensive sets or half-court plays, but all of that should be known by the players going in. Eventually, someone is going to have to make a shot.
“Out-coached” is an archaic term that means nothing, and so the imagined competition between Mazzulla and whoever he happens to be coaching against is not a real argument. It’s at most an excuse.
I conclude my case with this: During those mic’d up timeouts on the TV broadcast, what do coaches usually say to their team? Here’s a non-exhaustive list of what I usually hear:
“We’ve gotta execute!”
“Remember to crash the offensive glass”
“We’re getting out hustled. Get to those loose balls!”
“Keep getting good shots, keep running!”
Not exactly reinventing the wheel, are we? It’s because schemes and adjustments are not an in-game battle. I could say that to a team, but if my team goes 19% from beyond the arc, suddenly I am being out-coached.