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How the Charlotte Hornets are adding Kobe Bryant and playoff basketball to their break

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Every team is searching for ways to remain connected during the NBA’s COVID-19 hiatus and the resulting self-isolation. Strength coaches have crafted workout plans for players and dispatched exercise equipment. The best teams have the most incentive to stay in tiptop shape and hold each other accountable, since they will have something to play for if the season resumes.

Lottery teams have to look beyond immediate goals to keep players engaged. One head coach is compiling a reading list of seminal sports journalism for players to read.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

James Borrego, the Charlotte Hornets’ coach, came up with something different: He picked one playoff series for the team to watch — one game every day or two — and break down in video chats and text chains.5

“Basketball culture today is so much about watching specific plays,” Borrego told ESPN. “Guys watch their highlights. They watch edits of their own minutes. This is about studying an entire series, game by game. What can we learn? What adjustments do you see?”

Borrego didn’t want a series that was too recent. He spent a decade as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs, but he was wary about pushing that connection too hard. He settled on the Denver Nuggets-Los Angeles Lakers first-round series from 2012 — a seven-game barnburner that was also the last series win of Kobe Bryant’s career.

Borrego liked the contrast of styles: the run-and-gun Nuggets against the behemoth Lakers, starting the Pau Gasol-Andrew Bynum mega-frontcourt. Bynum averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds per game for the series, and he put up a triple-double — including 10 blocked shots — in the Lakers’ Game 1 win.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

“A lot of our guys probably don’t even know Andrew Bynum,” Borrego said.

The series was also incredibly physical. The offensive teams rebounded almost 37% of all misses, a mark that would lead the league today by a laughable margin. The teams combined for 47 offensive rebounds in the Lakers’ 96-87 win in Game 7; Gasol had six — all in a row — on one pivotal fourth-quarter possession.

“Part of this is to show them what physical playoff basketball looks like,” Borrego said. “This is where we want to get to someday. Let’s study it.”

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