Saturday, May 1, 2010

"...And Then We F----- Up The Endgame"

Botched end-of-game scenarios drive everyone crazy.  It would seem logical, especially for professional teams that practice regularly during the season, that coaches would make sure their teams practiced these scenarios until the Gatorade ran out, but time and again teams manage to bungle their chances of winning the game by making stupid mistakes (usually rushed decisions) or forgetting simple things that they would easily remember in a morning shoot-around. I won't claim to know what the best plan is for every time-sensitive situation, but there are certain situations in which teams seem to make bad decisions that any fan watching on TV could make.

Exhibit A: Lakers-Thunder, Friday night.  LA down 1, OKC ball, :30 to go.  Russell Westbrook misses a J and Kobe Bryant gets the rebound, :17 to go.  And then this.

Where do I start? First, Oklahoma City lets Westbrook (6'3") pick up Kobe (6'6") as he brings the ball upcourt.  Mind you, Kobe's had a lot of trouble in this series when being guarded by Kevin Durant (6'10") because of Durant's length, but Westbrook is doesn't present the same degree of difficulty.

After crossing midcourt, there is about a 3-4 second window in which Kobe is completely stationary, priming Westbrook for his next move.  If you're Westbrook and you realize that you are guarding the man who has made more shots in the last :10 of games this season than any other player in the league AND you are not the best man on the floor for the job, shouldn't you foul him instead of risking embarrassment when Kobe (more than likely) makes the winning shot? More to the point, shouldn't you foul him, so that even if he does make his free throws, you still have time to retaliate rather than watching him score at the buzzer?

I realize I'm acting like Kobe made the shot, but effectively he did.  If the shot had gone in, there would have been roughly 2.5 seconds left on the clock, which is ample time to run a decent inbounds play from halfcourt, but it seems like having 5-8 seconds and the ball while being down by 1 or 2 is a better option.  In that scenario, there is at least time for the player receiving the inbounds pass to consider dishing to a teammate rather than just shooting.        


On another note, here's ESPN's preview of Madden 11. The video below isn't tied to the article, but it gives a decent taste of the action.  The new system for calling plays looks good, but the lack of a turbo button will take some getting used to.

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