Teams around the league continue to navigate uncharted waters after the 2019-20 NBA season was suspended in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Players are finding ways to pass the time while staying in shape during self-quarantine. Meanwhile, coaching staffs are doing what they can to ensure they are also staying engaged with the mental aspect of the game.
This has led Charlotte Hornets head coach James Borrego to dig into the archives of some of the most intriguing playoff matchups in recent history. It appears he enlisted the help of some familiar faces for Los Angeles Lakers fans.
According to Zach Lowe of ESPN, Borrego assigned the team to watch film on the 2012 NBA playoffs first round matchup between the Lakers and Denver Nuggets:
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.
One of the most defining features of this series was how aggressive both teams were on the offensive glass:
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.
The NBA was still in the midst of its full transition to a run-and-gun approach and the Nuggets certainly had the personnel to fit this mold with players like Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, and Kenneth Faried. Meanwhile, the Lakers were able to counter with their towering duo of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum on the inside to move on to the next round.
It seems Borrego felt the contrasting styles of play and physical matchup made for an intriguing showdown to share with the bevy of young players on the roster. The fact that it was capped by Kobe Bryant‘s final playoff series win only solidifies this notion.
The Hornets are still a few pieces away from potentially engaging in a memorable playoff series of their own as they sit at the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference with a 23-42 record amidst the current hiatus. Regardless, it appears Borrego is getting a head start on showing them what to expect once postseason play begins.