In the NBA Finals, every decision, good or bad, is amplified as every play could be a gamechanger. Obviously, most important during these games (which look like they will be competitive for the duration of the series) is fourth quarter decision-making. Today we are going to look at decision making late, both good and bad. First, we are going to look at a fantastic pass made by Chris Bosh, and second, we are going to look at a poor defensive play made by Jason Terry:
Chris Bosh’s Assist
With about six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Chris Bosh found himself defended by Jason Terry, getting the basketball at the elbow. Instead of trying to back his man down and force something, he stayed patient and made a terrific play.
This possession all starts with a LeBron James post-up. Dallas decides to double it with Jason Terry, allowing Udonis Haslem to become open. James does a good job of spotting the open man, making the pass, and forcing a rotation that results in Jason Terry picking up Chris Bosh.
Haslem takes the shot with Jason Terry still on Bosh. As the Heat secure the offensive rebound, there is no time to switch back, meaning Terry is stuck trying to defend Bosh.
The Heat immediately get Bosh the basketball on the elbow and clear out, giving him space to work against the smaller man. Bosh could try to simply back Terry down, forcing the possession and putting himself in a position where he could get double teamed easily.
Instead, Bosh stays patient and simply faces up. He doesn’t drive, but he holds the ball, forcing the defense’s hand and waiting for a double team to come. Eventually, Tyson Chandler steps up to help Terry defend Bosh. The second that he does, his man, Udonis Haslem, seals Dirk Nowitzki off in the paint and looks for the basketball.
Bosh makes the pinpoint pass and Haslem makes the catch in perfect position, right in the middle of the lane.
Haslem goes up quickly, gets fouled, and finishes for the and-one. Here is the play in real time:
If Chris Bosh rushes this and tries to take advantage of the mismatch by forcing things, the result could be a missed shot or a turnover. Bosh stayed patient, waiting for the opening to show up, and took advantage.
Jason Terry’s Poor Positioning
With about three minutes left, LeBron James brought the basketball up, crossed his defender over, and drove the lane for a big dunk. This was a fantastic play by LeBron James, but he was allowed to make it by poor positioning from Jason Terry.
As LeBron James crosses half court, he starts to take the basketball to Dwyane Wade, who is cutting towards James looking for the dribble handoff.
However, once James gets to the point where he is supposed to hand off the basketball, he notices something. What he notices is Jason Terry playing on the wrong side of his man, Mario Chalmers, in a position where he can’t help on any dribble penetration.
With Terry in no position to help properly, James is able to get all the way to the rim before the defense steps up, fouling him, but not preventing him from getting the big-time dunk. Here is the play in real time:
Why is Terry playing defense like this? In the two sets before this one, Chalmers set a rub screen for Chris Bosh who then set a screen for Dwyane Wade. This time down, Terry got on the other side of Chalmers to try and prevent him from setting the rub screen for Bosh. As soon as James notices this, he crosses over a flat-footed Shawn Marion (who was expecting the dribble handoff as well) and drives the lane:
The two times down the court, the Miami Heat ran the same action twice in a row, with LeBron James bringing up the basketball, handing it off (or at least trying to) to Dwyane Wade and then letting Wade work off of a pick-and-roll. Also, looking at the action away from the basketball, Mario Chalmers set a rub screen for Chris Bosh both times. Terry wanted to prevent this action and got on the other side of Chalmers. It’s a poor decision because that rub screen wasn’t really effective, so there was no need to try and prevent it. Just a silly decision by Terry taking away something so minimal by giving up the penetration by LeBron James.
As you can see the team that can make the smarter decisions will be able to give themselves an advantage in these games, especially when they are so close. Until next time.