Usually I only watch the National Basketball Association when the San Antonio Spurs are on TV and will catch the highlights of other NBA games on ESPN to help me with basketball withdrawal symptoms.
After watching the Miami Heat make two poor basketball decisions and Indiana one in the last 5 minutes, 10 seconds in the opening game of their Eastern Conference championship series, it just shows that the highest paid players and coaches make the same mistakes of players and coaches at all levels.
The Heat made a mistake when they did not to foul on the inbounds pass when the Pacers player received the ball and started his dribble with less than 10 seconds left in the game and the Heat up by three.
They chose not to foul and Paul George hit a game-tying 3-pointer to force overtime.
There are really only two choices in this situation: gamble that the team does not make the 3-pointer and that you don’t foul the 3-point shooter, which they did at the end of the first overtime, or foul the offensive player with the ball as soon as he dribbles.
My choice has always been to foul the player as soon as he dribbles. This eliminates the possibility of fouling the player on a 3-point shot and it puts the opponents in a situation that is almost impossible to tie the game.
If the player is fouled and they are not in the bonus, or are shooting one-and-one or two shots, you have protected yourself from allowing the offense to tie the game.
If the offense is not in the bonus, then you get ready to foul again on the first dribble.
In this situation the offense has to complete four things successfully in order to tie the game:
— The foul shooter needs to make the first half of the one-and-one or the two-shot foul.
— The foul shooter needs to miss the second shot intentionally.
— The offensive team needs to get the offensive rebound.
— They need to score off the offensive rebound.
I have never seen this happen successfully. However, I have seen a lot of teams give up a 3-point shot, which tied the game, and then lose in overtime.
The second mistake that Miami made in the game was in the overtime with 2.2 seconds to go and with a two-point lead when Miami’s Dwyane Wade fouled Paul George during a 3-point attempt. George calmly went to the line and made three in a row to give Indiana a one-point lead.
Miami called a timeout, and with 2.2 seconds left, set up a final play knowing that they were going to get the ball out-of-bounds at the top of the free throw circle in the front court.
Everyone in the arena and watching the game on TV knew that Miami was going to try to get the ball to LeBron James. Indiana chose not to double team him with the defender whose man was taking the ball out-of-bounds.
This allowed James to receive the pass and with the other Indiana defenders guarding to protect against the 3-pointer, James had the ball with just one defender guarding him on the perimeter, which opened up a lane for him to drive to the hoop for a left-handed layup that gave Miami a one-point lead.
James should have been double-teamed on the inbounds pass. Then Miami would have been forced to pass to another player for a possible 3-point attempt. I would much rather take the chance of a 3-pointer going in than a lay up.
Given the millions of dollars that NBA players and coaches make per year, they should make better basketball decisions.
So when your local high school coaches or players make these kind of mental mistakes, you shouldn’t get too upset.