Saturday, March 31, 2007

I don't have very much to say this afternoon. I hadn't intended to post, but something Bill Walton said at the end of the Bulls-Cavs game deserved notice. Before I begin, I must admit that I hate Walton. I never particularly like him, but I didn't have much animosity against him either until I saw him high fiving New Jersey Nets fans in the Meadowlands a few years ago as the team was in the process of closing the Celtics out of a playoff series. I know he wasn't a Celtic for very long, but that was still a beat thing to do.

But today, the Bulls were down two to the Cavs with 9 seconds remaining on the clock in overtime. The Cavs had just scored, and instead of taking a time out, the Bulls proceeded to inbound the ball and go for the last shot without drawing up a play. When the shot failed and the Cavs won the game, the other announcer asked Walton if he thought that the Bulls should have taken the time out instead of trying to score on the run.

Walton didn't take the chance to rip Scott Skiles or second guess him. I imagine the Chicago press will do just that tonight and tomorrow. I'm sure everybody's favorite blight om the city of Chicago, Jay Mariotti will spill plenty of ink on that topic. But I agree with Walton, these guys are paid to play basketball for a living. They've been doing it for their entire lives. If they don't know what they need to do to generate a quality shot to tie or win a game in nine seconds, it's probably time to contemplate a career change.

Skiles was right not to call that time out. After all, as Walton pointed out, when you try to score by pushing the ball down court the defense doesn't have a chance to set up, they have to react immediately. However, if you do take a time out in that situation you can move the ball up to the hashmark, as opposed to inbounding from under your own basket. But that also gives your opponent a chance to position his defense to counter your play.

After all, these teams have a lot of tape on the other team and plenty of experience playing against each other. The Cavs know how to defend the Bulls in a half court set, or at least they should. But late in the game, with fatigue a factor, it is a reasonable risk to take a chance that a player might be fatigued or surprised that there was no time out called and as a result find himself caught out of position. The odds of getting a good look at the tying or winning shot seem no worse in pushing the ball right away than they do in taking the time out to diagram the play.


Alan said...

Actually, it seems like Mariotti is more complimentary toward Skiles than any other Chicago sports figure. I can't remember him ripping or second guessing Skiles very much, if at all.

thecincinattikid said...

What are you? My conscience?