With 18.8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Cavs had to call not one, not two, but all three of their remaining timeouts just to inbound the basketball from inside of half-court. James Jones inbounded the ball to LeBron James with the Cavs leading 84-82. James proceeded to commit his second offensive foul in less than a minute.
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Chicago regained possession and Derrick Rose scored on a driving lay-in with 8.3 seconds left. At this point, Cavs head coach David Blatt tried to call a timeout to set up a play for his team. Problem is, he had none remaining. Since Jones called one of those timeouts a possession earlier, Blatt was not aware he lost that one. Thankfully, however, the Cavs assistant coaches stepped in to prevent Blatt from calling it.
“Yeah, I almost blew it,” Blatt said after the game.
After getting their shot blocked out of bounds, Cleveland had just 1.5 seconds remaining to get a shot off. David Blatt drew up a play that had LeBron James being the inbounder, according to reports. LeBron James, according to his postgame comments, scratched the play that was drawn up and went go get a basket himself.
A rookie mistake by a rookie NBA head coach who hates being called a rookie. This of course could’ve cost Cleveland Game Four because the punishment for calling a timeout when you have none is a technical foul. Just ask Chris Webber:
Blatt was somewhat criticized for his pair of possible mistakes after the game, but let’s take a look at the situation. He was under the impression that Cleveland had one timeout left with eight seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. An understandable mistake for a young coach, who many forget is in his first NBA playoffs. In Europe, they employ the one-and-done rule for games, meaning every game is an elimination game. These playoffs pin you against a single team for over a week, forcing constant adjustments to be made.
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As for Blatt’s end of game play that he drew up in which James inbounded, it sounded like a good play for J.R. Smith. Here’s why: J.R. Smith had scored 11 points in the quarter on 4-of-4 shooting and three clutch three-pointers. LeBron James on the other hand had just committed back-to-back offensive fouls which gave the Cavs empty possessions. To make matters worse, James had shot just 9-29 prior to the game-winning shot at he buzzer, good for just 31% from the field.
Blatt acted on instinct, which is good for a coach learning how to work an NBA game; but in the playoffs, the biggest thing a coach needs is awareness. Expect him and the Cavs to be ready for Game Five on Tuesday night, back at the Q!