Part of being a successful athlete at the height of your profession is preparing for games. I am not talking about taking to practice to hone your craft, though that does wonders as well.
I am talking about film study. Understanding who you are going up against. Checking in on your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.
This is exactly what drives Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen off the court.
In a recent profile on ESPN, Allen explains just how in-depth his preparation process is.
I’d grab our video equipment guy and say, ‘Who I got tomorrow?'” The elite defender said of his preparation habits. “I’d tell him I wanted all of their offensive sets, and I want you to give me their three previous games. I want to see their isolation situations. I want to see every time they caught it in a set when he was aggressive, every time he got it in transition. I would break that down. I study and eat all that up.
This helps Allen get a upper-hand against his opponents. In the Golden State Warriors series, that just happens to be All-Star guard Klay Thompson.
And it’s worked wonders through three games.
Heading into Monday night’s Game 4 matchup, Thompson has connected on 50 percent of his shots, but he’s also turned the ball over 12 times and has hit just six three-pointers.
Allen expanded on his preparation process:
So when the play is coming, I’ll say in my head, ‘Let me jump to his right hand, because when they call that, I saw on film he went right and then split the pick-and-roll.’ My mind works like that in the game—in a split second. A light goes off like, ‘OK, I know this play, cool.’ When the pick comes, I’ll just need a little help.
And then once I catch back up in front of him, I tell my big fella to get back. Now, we’re back to one-on-one, Allen told ESPN’s Michael Wallace. “And the only way you’re going to beat me now is by having a jetpack on your back or something so you can jump clean over me. But it’s one-on-one defense now. So let’s get at it.
Allen, a first-round pick of the Boston Celtics back in 2004, has been named to the NBA’s First-Team All Defense squad twice. Despite this, he was shafted out of that honor this season—something that can’t sit well with the elite defender.
If the Grizzlies do advance past Golden State, Allen will be one of the primary reasons why. Not just because of his performance on the court, but due to his preparation off of it.
Photo: USA Today Sports