Originally Posted by Scrap Irony
It's not like Phil Jackson has planned this. If asked, I'm pretty certain Jackson (and any other coach worth his whistle) will want to win every game, home or away. There are a ton of advantages to it and very little downside.
1) You can rest. Aching knees, shoulders, and wrists get better. Backs get stronger. Starters can play more minutes, rather than exposing a weak-ish bench.
2) You can prepare better for the next team, rather than having to game-plan for the current one.
3) Did I mention rest?
4) More games mean a much better chance of injury, both nagging and serious. Half-speed generally gets you hurt. Full speed may. No speed won't.
5) Less games mean less of a chance of mental fatigue. Players get overwhelmed sometimes and the pressure to win can be difficult. (One of the reasons, IMO, Jackson held out Bynam last year was to allow him to recharge his batteries for the big push late in the playoffs.) A sharper team is often the difference between winning and losing, especially in a conference as tough as the West, where best team and "worst" team is a roll of the dice each night.
Yes, if you could guarantee that by being laser sharp and getting everyone to give 100% effort they'd win every series 4-0 I'm sure Phil would rather do that. But again, there have been a number of games while Phil's been with the Lakers and the Bulls before hand, where they have come to an opposing stadium, and for lack of a better term packed it in.
As I said, I think this is Phil playing the percentages and understanding that even if everyone plays with 100% focus and intensity, we're still less than a 50/50 shot to win. In cases like those, he allows the team a "mental health" day. Knowing that a) the team will come out the next game with that much more of an edge, and b)he believes the opposing team has little to no shot to win a series.
Actually looking back on it, I was surprised to see it didn't happen as often as I had thought. There does seem to be a few consistent themes to some of the situations where I've felt that it has happened.
1) It seems to happen in Game 4 on the road. This is an absolute must have for the opponents and not for the Lakers. The Lakers know they're coming home with at worst a 2-2 split.
2) It seems to come against teams the Lakers are confident they can beat at home. Phil doesn't mess around with tough teams like the Spurs. He knows there is no gimmee back at Staples Center, as opposed to say the Thunder who he knows worst comes to worst, he'll win game 7 at home.