When the Team Needs Something Extra
There comes a time when the troops are a bit weary or depleted and in need of a special weapon to survive or deliver a crushing blow. The great field generals of history have known about this timing and this weapon. The most successful sports teams make it an invaluable necessity.
The weapon is the element of the reserve force, and when the NBA season stretches from April into May, these reserves become more and more of a factor in the success of a team. The reserves were on exemplary display Thursday night on two fronts and in two distinct situations. In Chicago, where the Bulls were certain to survive its series against tattered foes, the Cleveland Cavaliers brought the reserves. Guards Matthew Dellavedova and J.R. Smith stepped in to combine for 31 points, as the Cavs squelched the Bulls, 94-73, and won their best-of-seven Eastern Conference series. In Los Angeles, the Houston Rockets were struggling to survive and deployed substitutes Terrence Jones and Corey Brewer to save the day. Those two came off the bench to contribute 35 total points in the Rockets’ 119-107 victory over the Clippers. That resurrected a Western Conference series that now goes to a seventh game on Sunday.
The need for reserve strength has been the case throughout a playoffs that has been marred by illness and injury to teams’ best players. Strangely enough, Houston’s bench has been about the most consistent of the remaining playoff teams, and the Rockets’ number one player, James Harden has been relatively healthy. The Golden State Warriors have also had good production through substitution, with Andre Iguodala and David Lee putting in valuable minutes. The Warriors’ potential among their reserve forces may in fact be the strongest remaining. Iguodala contributes as much time as some Warriors starters, and Lee, Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa have become regulars on the floor.
As teams play out their seasons on both the eastern and western fronts, it will be fun to watch the little names as well as the big ones. The reserves will certainly be called on to save the day.
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