NBA Playoffs

Tuesday night my Utah Jazz got knocked out in game seven of the NBA first round western playoffs against the Denver Nuggets. It was a heartbreaking loss where the Jazz lost by just one basket. Donovan Mitchell was only the 4th player ever to have two games in a series where he scored over 50 points. But points alone won’t win games – strategy wins games.

This year the playoffs have been the most unique and interesting of any I’ve ever watched. All the players were placed inside of a “bubble“ in Orlando without any real fans and away from their families. The “fans“ are made up of fake visual people and artificial noise to stimulate a real environment for the players. Although it’s much better than nothing, it goes to prove that artificial intelligence still isn’t better or can’t replace real people.

The average margin of win in an NBA game is just around six points. Often the team with the highest free throw shooting percentage wins. Rick Barry, named one of the 50 Greatest players in history by the NBA in 1996, was ranked as an outstanding scorer and all-round player. He is “the only player to lead the NCAA, ABA, and NBA in points per game in a season” ( It’s no coincidence that he was also an 89% average free throw shooter. This win games!

Barry shot his free throws “Granny Style,” which is not glamorous. It’s not the way most players shoot. But it worked for him and it works today. (A few years ago his son, Canyon Barry, played as guard for the Florida Gators and also shot Granny Style.) Wilt Chamberlain, the only player to score 100 points in a game ever, had a horrific shooting percentage from the line of just above 50%. When a coach convinced him to shoot underhanded (Granny Style), his percentage shot up that season, and he sunk 28 of 32 in his 100 point game. 

At the buzzer of Tuesday’s game, Mike Conley of the Utah Jazz launched up a three-pointer to win the game that rimmed out and just didn’t quite fall. Sometimes those game-winning shots just don’t fall. Michael Jordan, known as one of, if not the best NBA player of all time was known for his game-winning shots. However what you don’t see or read about as much is all of the game-winning shots he missed or mistakes he made. He is human just like all of us. The difference with Michael Jordan is he used those mistakes as a springboard to work harder, learn from, and get better. He had a different mindset than the average player which in my opinion is what makes him so great.

You’ll never have a week or month where everything will go perfect in your practice. You’ll never “hit every shot you take.“ The key is to keep getting better and focus on the process, not just the result with your team. It’s interesting to me that professional sports teams practice multiple days per week for just one game but in practice and in business we do the opposite. We jump right into “game time,” often with very little practice. 

Sometimes the glamorous “Granny Style” process is what gets the job done profitably and proficiently. Most dentists don’t realize they have more profit in a an amalgam filling (you know, those old silver things) as compared to Botox (which has very slim margins), yet everyone wants to jump into this “fancy new technology.” Don’t chase shiny objects. If you want to be different and better and have a practice that really excels and really exceeds the expectations of your patients you need to practice, practice, practice. 

Keep at it and have a great week!

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