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Posts Tagged ‘last second plays’

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).

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Posted in notes: college & pro | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

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!)

Posted in notes: college & pro | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Final Thoughts on the Final Moments of Game 5 of The Finals

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on June 17, 2008

What Coulda Been

Can we go back to the last game, Game 5, for a moment? I have searched YouTube for a clip of the last 20 secs and didn’t come up with anything so you’ll have to check your own DVR or TiVo or come over to the NTL office to look at this, but did anyone notice what I saw after Eddie House hit that three-pointer from the left corner with less than 15 seconds remaining, cutting the deficit to three? I bet the Celtics coaching staff did. House hit the three and the Lakers then inbounded the ball against all-out pressure. Gasol, passing it in and guarded by KG, tossed it cross court where Kobe and Derek Fisher had moved. That was a mistake by those two; you always space out the defense. So, the ball is passed up and soft between them. Problem is: two guys cannot both catch the ball. It, natch, gets fumbled. Eddie House, alert, alive, wanting the ball, wanting another shot at a three, steps in and, diving, pokes it loose. Kobe then dives for the ball as it’s going toward the corner; KG’s coming over and in the play, taking away the baseline return pass to Gasol. Sam Cassell, and here’s my point, is drifting s-l-o-w-l-y over from the lane where he was taking away middle and never matched up with anyone. Okay, as Kobe’s is diving on the ball, Kobe, similarly alert and alive, is thinking about where he’s gonna throw it before he potentially slides out of bounds or gets hit with a travel call. There’s a passing lane from Kobe, who’s now on the floor, up the sideline, to Fisher. An obvious passing lane. You could have put up a neon flashing street sign with arrows: Passing Lane Here. What is defense supposed to do in almost every defensive situation? Get in the passing lane. And when you need the ball, and oh-do-you-need-the-ball when you are down three with 12 seconds to go in a game that could clinch your team the championship, you play in the passing lane (or cat-and-mouse your way in to the passing lane). Cassell had an opportunity to generate a “CASSELL STEALS THE BALL” moment, but he just stood there, spectating, not anticipating the way Bird did against the Pistons, the way, Havlicek did against the 76ers. As Kobe was on the floor, he was only going to be able to throw it one way and to just one possible player. Calcified, mummified, deer-in-the-headlightsified, Cassell did not make the move. Too bad, Johnny Most was ready. Onto Game 6.

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