I Don’t Get it. Why Do Teams Quit? (Cavs, Game Six, 05/13/10)
Posted by Steve Bzomowski on May 14, 2010
We were at the game last night so did not hear the broadcast or, specifically, if Jeff van Gundy, pulling the few remaining strands of hair out of his head, said this same exact thing: why did the Cavs give up, or not try to make a slim but-oh-so-very-possible comeback in the last minute? Why? What is lost by not trying? There was plenty of time left! I don’t get it!
This is what I saw: 00:52 left, score 94-85 Celts. 9 point spread. Rondo crosses half court dribbling. Mo Williams turns and looks to the bench with a look that asks, “should I foul?” The coach and everyone on the bench returns blank stares. Williams should have tackled Rondo and then gone to the bench and slapped every one of the coaches upside the head.
This is what I easily imagined: Williams fouls Rondo. Rondo had just missed his last 2 FTs and was 3/7 on the game and the Celtics, as a team, had missed a bunch in the 4th qtr. Missing FTs, which sometimes seems contagious, was in the air. Rondo, placid as ever at the line, wipes the sweat that has oozed out from under the headband. (I think of the old Al McGuire-ism, “if you want to know if he’s gonna make it, look in his eyes.””) He misses both, Cavs outlet, James pulls up from 28′ and nails a 3. Crowd groans, lots of air whooshes out the building, like there’s a train to catch to Lowell. Time-out Cavs. Alright, Cavs down 6. 00:43 remain. Cavs set up the press, all-out ball denial. Doc Rivers takes Rondo out to remove the FT liability but loses point and quickness to get open. Pierce inbounds to Ray Allen. He catches and holds, Cavs come in to trap. Allen, an upright ballhandler, dribbles ball off his own foot (or there’s a five second call or the ball never gets caught or the ball goes off the Cavs but it’s a bad call or a million other things that are at least POSSIBLE!) Cavs ball. They inbound, James catches, 3 Celts run at James who fires ball to corner for Parker (who had hit his last 3). Bang! Cavs down 3, 94-91, 28.7 damn seconds still to go. 13,909 of the 18,000+ plus fans put both hands on their heads, mouths agape. KC Jones stirs from his aisle seat across from us, coming momentarily awake. Havlicek gets up and steals away to the bathroom. All sort of things can happen after that: they foul Rasheed, he makes one. Cavs down 4. They score quickly (James dunk). Cavs down 2, still at least 10 seconds left. Foul, miss, score, a 3. Whatever. Whatever! But something! Something!
I mean, c’mon. Did they not practice as a team since October? Did they not just play over a hundred games together (exhibition + regular season + playoffs)? Weren’t they bonded? A band of brothers? Don’t they care enough to at least take a chance at the 1 in 20 or 1 in 50 or 1 in a 100 shot they’d have at pulling this off? Not only would they have a (slim) chance of winning, which is damn plenty reason enough, but they would have chance to make history, a historic comeback, one that people would be talking about for decades. Um, sort of like when Reggie Miller scored 8 points in 9 seconds against the Knicks in the playoffs. 8 points in 9 seconds!!! In contrast, 9 (or 10) in 52 seconds seems downright ho-hum, a walk in the park (along the burning Cuyahoga).