Does Jackie MacMullan ever write anything that isn’t completely unbelievable in every sense of the word? She’s like the ‘roided-up Barry Bonds of writers — I expect her to hit a home run every time, and most of the time she does.
Today she killed her piece on Tom Thibodeau, absolutely murdered it in cold blood. And get this, Thibs says he didn’t freeze up when he forgot to make a substitution the last 18 minutes of that Hawks game way back when — he simply knew the matchups too well for his own good. (Boston Globe)
So what happened in that Jan. 11 game? Contrary to those who suspected Thibodeau was “unprepared,’’ it was his intimate knowledge of the fourth-quarter matchups that stopped him from making a move. The Hawks had sent point guard Mike Bibby to the bench and left Jamal Crawford to cover the point. Usually Bibby returns for the stretch run.
“The one guy I wanted to get back in the game was Eddie [House],’’ Thibodeau explained. “I was waiting for Bibby to check back in, but it didn’t happen.
“I knew I was taking a chance. We were shorthanded that night. Kevin [Garnett] and Rasheed [Wallace] were both out.
“I had studied the fourth-quarter matchups and I knew Jamal Crawford would be trouble for us. If you create a bad matchup, it can cost you 8-10 points.
“When we lost, I knew it would open me up to criticism. Things didn’t work out — but they could have.
“I just don’t worry about that stuff.’’
According to Thibodeau, the Atlanta loss has not come up in any of his head coaching interviews. Van Gundy said he was stunned by how many people jumped to conclusions following that one game.
“In retrospect,’’ Van Gundy said, “Tibs probably should have played the regular rotation but on a shorter lease — not because what he chose to do was wrong, but because it was so scrutinized and took on a life of its own. All of a sudden people were portraying him to be some robotic coaching drone, which is not who he is.
“Look, anyone who thinks there’s no learning curve when you slide over to [the head coach’s] seat is crazy.
“I can only guarantee you one thing: Any mistakes Tibs will make won’t be because of lack of preparation or because of a ‘deer in the headlights’ situation. Nobody cares more about getting it right.’’
I don’t know about for you guys, but it almost makes that coaching decision worse for me that Thibodeau knew exactly what he was doing. I think Thibs is a fantastic coach, but it would have been way better if he’d just been like Shooter from Hoosiers, drunk stiff on the bench and freezing up at the wrong time (R.I.P. Dennis Hopper). I mean, I don’t care what the matchups are, you’ve simply got to get your players some rest. I don’t care if Jamal Crawford was Michael Jordan, you still have to put some damn subs in. If the same five guys play 18 minutes in a row there’s something wrong with the coaching decision, even if Scal is the sixth man.
Another interesting quote from the piece? “Those closest to Thibodeau know he likes cars, music, and women.”
No offense to Thibs or anything, he’s a hell of a coach and all, but it’s a little tough to imagine him as much of a ladies man.