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Sniffing Out a Last Second Play

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on January 13, 2009

So, in the Raptors/Celts’ game last night, after a missed shot by the Raptors (they were down three), long offensive rebound and heads-up one extra pass by the NBA’s all-time, three-point FG% leader, Jason Kapono, Andrea Bergnani hits a three to tie the game with one second on the clock. Time-out Celts. What was then surprising and fascinating from a coaching standpoint was who was on the floor for the Celts ensuing last second play. One second? What do you need? Minimum of some shooters, the real deals and the decoys. So, they come out of the huddle and first thing the announcers did (and should do) is give the offensive line-up, as if to suggest what the strategy will be: who will take the shot? First name they say? Rajon Rondo. Why is that interesting and, truly, if you think about it, illuminating, is what is Rondo, of all people gonna do in that one second? “What is he doing out there?” is what the Raptors’ assistant coaches should have been thinking (and pointing out, pronto)! Rondo is not a shooter. (The only negative in his game.) We know that, so he’s not in there to shoot. There is no time to do the other two things he does well: pass the ball and/or drive to the hoop. Right? No time for any of those three things: shoot (nope), pass (nope), drive (not enough time). And, at 6’1″, 160 lbs., he’s not in there to screen. Only possibility? Alley-oop for Rondo. And that is exactly what the Celts did: curled him off a ballside screen, down the middle of the lane he went, up to the rim the pass came. Timing was off and the play did not succeed but give the Celtics credit for a good play, but a play that with some quick thinking by those responsible for the defense (players and coaches) could have been sniffed out. (Postscript: the Raptors pretty obviously did not sniff the play out because had they, they would have stuck Rondo’s defender underneath the hoop, and instead he trailed him, bodied him up all the way around the screen, a step behind all the way!)


2 Responses to “Sniffing Out a Last Second Play”

  1. nathan_a said

    As a Raptor fan, I was just glad we didn’t get burned again. Haven’t forgotten Lawrence Frank drawing up a similar inbounds alley-oop for Vince Carter not too long ago. Of course, as you pointed out, the Raps didn’t defend it this time either … perhaps I should forward your blog to the coaching staff! 🙂

    Glad I found this site, still have fond memories of a great NTL camp experience years ago …

    – Nathan


  2. Nathan – – Hard to criticize the staff unless, of course, it’s a play the opposing team has run before. Still, when you see a new alignment, the wheels need to start turning (and I’m sure they were). It was about two seconds (okay, 1.9) before they inbounded the ball that I shouted to my wife, “alleyoop for Rondo!”


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