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Portland won its 11th straight game on Monday in a 102-91 win over New York at the Moda Center.
Portland won its 11th straight game on Monday in a 102-91 win over New York at the Moda Center.

In what’s been a pleasant surprise for fans in the Rose City, the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers are kicking butt. Paul Allen’s team owns the third-best record in the league and is currently riding an impressive 11-game winning streak.

ipadoct13What’s just as surprising, though, might be the squad’s use of iPads on the bench during games.

In his “Media Row Report,” from earlier today, Ben Golliver over at BlazersEdge has a really interesting write-up about four Blazers players who use the tablet to watch on-demand replays of the game when they take a break on the bench.

[Related: The connected sports fan: Testing out speedy WiFi, ticket upgrade feature at a Portland Trail Blazers game]

They’re using the iPad in different ways and with different frequencies — some watch at every break, others wait until halftime — but there’s certainly the same end goal: To make proper changes during the game in order to gain a strategic advantage.

Here’s a few paragraphs from Golliver’s story:

Matthews and Aldridge were the biggest advocates of the new technology. Matthews told Blazersedge that he uses the tablet to examine plays on both sides of the ball. On his offensive touches, he’s concerned with his shooting form, whether he’s rushing his shots, and whether there were additional options available to him when the ball swings his way. On defensive plays, Matthews is checking for his stance, his spacing relative to his opponent, and how players are scoring on him.

Aldridge, by contrast, does not look at Portland’s defensive possessions, instead reviewing the opposition’s defensive coverages when he has the ball in the block or in isolation. Where are the double teams coming from? When do they come? Which of Portland’s shooters are opponents choosing to leave open? What are his passing options? He sounded like a football quarterback or an offensive coordinator when describing this instant, in-game “reading the defense” process.

Taking advantage of tablet technology to watch film and go over plays isn’t necessarily new in pro sports, and using Microsoft’s Surface device on the sidelines during games is part of the NFL’s new megadeal with the Redmond software giant.

But this is the first I’ve heard of tablet use by NBA players on the bench. It will be interesting to see if other teams follow suit, and how exactly the NBA will control player and coach use of technology, particularly during the game.

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