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Ball Don't Lie

The Portland Trail Blazers are using iPads during timeouts to guide them during game action

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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The Blazers look a little lost without their iPads. (Getty Images)

It seemed like only a matter of time before this sort of thing happened. The iPad, let’s be honest, is the modern era’s newest and bluest version of a clipboard, so why not bring it down to a clipboard’s level during NBA game action? NBA players aren’t allowed to tweet during games, as this would result in a fine, but they are allowed the chance to rush back to the locker room to scope out game film, or take in stat sheet printouts in between quarters or halves. Why not beat the middle man and bring the game film to the bench?

In spite of recent protestations from Rajon Rondo and Rudy Gay about the proximity of stat sheets to a player’s nervous eyes, most active players tend to dig this stuff. They want to know what they did wrong and how to get better in real time. Which is why the white hot Portland Trail Blazers have brought the iPads to the bench, as noticed by Blazer’s Edge’s Ben Golliver on Tuesday, in the wake of their impressive win over the New York Knicks:

If you think you've seen the Blazers looking at iPads on the bench during games, your eyes are not deceiving you. Multiple members of the team are indeed viewing game tape on the bench, during games, with an eye towards strategic adjustments.

A quick survey of Portland's key players on this subject produced some interesting results. [Damian] Lillard, [Wesley] Matthews, [Nicolas] Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge all said that they are using iPads for help during games. Interestingly, they are pursuing individual approaches when it comes to what footage they want to watch, and they also have personal preferences about when and how they view the on-demand footage.

[…]

"It does [help] because you get to see it [again], and in the game everything happens so fast," Matthews, who finished with 17 points (on 6-for-14 shooting) and 6 rebounds, told Blazersedge. "You ask yourself, 'Did I rush it? I felt like I rushed it.' [The video can tell me] when I'm in that same situation -- off a flare screen, when Nic [Batum] passes over the top -- [if] I have more time to get the shot off or [if] I have to shoot it at that speed again. Or, could I have driven it?"

The visual helps with maintaining his confidence too.

"You're not replaying [a possible mistake] in your head, psyching yourself out," Matthews explained to Blazersedge. "You can actually see it."

This is particularly impressive in NBA culture, one that demands that star players work around 36 minutes a night in a 48 minute game, squeezed inside two and a half hours of end to end play. The relatively leisurely baseball game allows for a batter to head into the locker room to watch tape of an at bat gone wrong, and football’s brain smashers have 42 coaches watching from on high to transmit analysis between plays – with a week off between games.

Basketball? It’s quick-quick-quick. Which is why it makes sense to not just draw out the plays gone pear-shaped on a clipboard, but to rewind them just minutes later in order to let a player know where his hip should have been, or what his opponent thinks is coming next.

And with a 13-2 record to start the season, and top-three offense thus far, can’t we at least credit the Trail Blazers for being on the vanguard?

A good chunk of their players were born in the 1990s. Most of them don’t recall a time without an internet connection, or even dial-up, and each player (we’re sure) knows their way around a touch screen. It isn’t as if the Blazers’ coaching staff is wheeling out some newfangled device meant to worry and/or confuse – they’re basically utilizing the same sort of technology that their players are staring into for hours on end on plane rides between city to city, with Netflix blaring away.

On top of that, it’s not as if these players are being shown up. Mathews, Batum, Lillard and Aldridge are all heady, agreeable sorts that want to win. They don’t need an iPad clip to show them what they’ve done wrong, as the clang of their last jumper or the success of their opponent is evidence enough. The Blazers, to their credit, are full of players that want to know what went wrong – right away.

Now we’ve got the technology to aid them in the search for The Right Way. At least they’re not using Google Glasses.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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