Home > Uncategorized > Over And Over Again, Last-Shot Offense In Basketball Is Atrocious

Over And Over Again, Last-Shot Offense In Basketball Is Atrocious

Last night’s Oklahoma City-Memphis three-OT thriller was the best NBA game I’ve seen this season, and that probably dates back past previous years. Big shots, great effort, wire-to-wire excitement. The Thunder trailed by 18 points in the first half. The Grizzlies forced overtime AND double overtime after trailing by seven points with less than two minutes to play. Both team’s had a never-say-die attitude. The second overtime was absolutely gripping.

But amid all of the action, one preventable scenario repeatedly raised its head.

Neither team knew how to manage the clock in a last-shot situation.

This isn’t just the fault of the Thunder and Grizzlies. It happens ALL THE TIME.

It happened earlier Monday night to the Boston Celtics (go to 2:09). Paul Pierce was left waiting for a screen that didn’t take shape, but he’s got to know when to stop waiting and start acting. The designed play was obviously botched, but Pierce’s pause didn’t help; it forced him to take a left-leaning, off-balanced, fall-away jumper from outside of the paint. He’s got to move sooner than with 4.5 seconds left.

But the Thunder and Grizzlies committed the same mistake at least three times last night — Memphis at the end of regulation, and the Thunder at the end of the first two overtimes. Video below.

True, Mike Conley’s shot went in. But I would like it if my point guard could construct something better with 15 seconds to play that the “Just give it to me and I’ll figure something out, even if it means launching a 26-foot shot from the wing over a guy 9 inches taller than me” strategy. Luckily for Conley, it worked. And we played on.

With 11 seconds left in the first overtime, I’ll give Greivis Vasquez this: At least he put up a shot with plenty of time left for an offensive rebound or two.

But seriously, what the hell kind of shot was that?

The Thunder had plenty of time remaining after that fluke — 9.4 seconds — to compose a smart play. Instead, Russell Westbrook hogged the ball and then dished it off to Kevin Durant, who had no choice but to hoist up a prayer from 30 feet out. Watching Westbrook handle the ball this postseason has been a brand of sadism. He is suffocating his own offense despite averaging 29 points per game in these playoffs.

Then at the close of the second time, Westbrook made two mistakes. First, he has got to get the ball past halfcourt quicker than the three seconds it took him. Tony Allen’s defense wasn’t that sticky. Second, he completely rushed his shot. Now, in that situation, it’s understandable that nerves cause an awkward shot. But as the floor general of OKC, Westbrook needs to realize that there was still a full second left on the clock when he released that 20-foot jumper, and he could have made the attempt at least six feet shorter with the amount of space he had in front of him.

But hey, the Thunder won, so all of that is overlooked.

Don’t even get me started on the college game. With less than 20 seconds left in a one-possession game of any kind, you’re lucky if you get something shorter than the 3-pointer four out of every 10 times. Those kids just do not want to pass when it’s time to be clutch.

All of this can be improved if teams just force the action a few ticks earlier. Teams are so obsessed with making their last shot the actual last shot, they leave no time for a miss and a possible second try. In doing so, they severely limit the possibilities of the possession and are left to take whatever’s available with no time left. That usually doesn’t work out and leaves coaches and fans alike with an exasperated look.

Conley got lucky. Vasquez got lucky. Westbrook just lost his head twice.

Unfortunately, we’ll see more of the same in these playoffs, maybe as soon as the Hawks-Bulls game tonight. Well, that is if the Hawks have the opportunity of anything close to a last-second shot. I think that game is going to be a slaughter.

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