Last night, the Warriors were down two to the Blazers, with the clock dwindling. Jamal Crawford launched a jumper (no surprise there), and Udoh grabbed the long rebound, his momentum carrying him towards GSW’s basket.  From this point, the Warriors had no plan. There were less than ten seconds to go, Ekpe looked ambivalent as a possibly open Brandon Rush streaked to the hoop. Timeout, from the bench. You probably know the result, coming out of the TO: Nate Robinson flubbed the play, Brandon Rush shot a corner three literally at the buzzer, Warriors lost. I prefer to let the action play out, like when D’Antoni allowed Lin to hit a game winner unfettered. When you call TO, the opposing defense also has time to set up, and planning tends to favor the defense.

ESS: Why was the timeout called, what was the thinking behind that?

Mark Jackson: Getting my offensive guys back in the game.

Though I disagree with Jackson’s decision here, I can certainly understand the logic. The Ekpe Udoh to Dominic McGuire connection is not exactly Lob City. Of course, I can quibble with the execution after the timeout. Nate Robinson is not my preferred crunch time performer, and he caught the inbounds–with six seconds left–while running towards the opposite basket.

In general, what I take is this: GSW calls timeout. A few days before, against the Suns, Jackson called a TO that ended a 5-on-3 Warriors transition opportunity. When I asked after the play, Jackson said that he wanted to “slow it down.” GSW went on to win that game, for all I know due to a pace change that came at the expense of that squandered opportunity. Many coaches try to exert full control over the action, and fear unplanned chaos. The Warriors coaches are of that mindset.

I’m more asking than arguing here: In crunch time situations, do you prefer detailed control with frequent timeouts? Or do you prefer to just let it all unfold?

4 Responses

  1. Eric

    n reality, group decision-making isn’t always about doing what gives you the highest chance of success – more often than not, it’s about putting accountability on the people who can handle the blame if the desired outcome isn’t achieved. Rookies like Klay Thompson don’t have a long history of success at the NBA level to deflect criticism from fans/management/etc if things don’t go as planned. Running a play isn’t only about coach control, it’s also about them taking on accountability. I would agree with your implication that much of this is just faulty human psychology, selective memory, bad statistics etc. But from a coaching perspective, it could also be about protecting your guys from taking too much heat.

    That said, as a first-year coach, is Mark Jackson taking the accountability for expecting Nate Robinson to successfully deal with the concept of “options”?

  2. kirby

    Depends on the players you have on the floor. And by that I mean how much the coach trusts his guys on the floor. So while I agreed with you as I was reading the post, now that I thought about it I might not. 6 ticks left – I trust Epke passing it to Grant Hill(SF), who could get it to Nash possibly, but I don’t know if I trust it going to Rush, who might be able to get it to Curry/Nate. Right? Just a thought.

  3. JetsetPete

    Given that the resulting play after TO was Nate going down the lane out of control he would have been better served to do the same thing but without the defense set and ready. I mean did MJ really call a TO and say in the huddle “Nate go for it”? If that’s the case the TO was ill timed. Why not actually call a play? Six seconds is heaps of time. Coach fail.

  4. EvanZ

    “I’m more asking than arguing here: In crunch time situations, do you prefer detailed control with frequent timeouts? Or do you prefer to just let it all unfold?” With some effort (using play-by-play data), one could actually determine which choice leads to a more efficient possession.