Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Friday, March 28, 2014

On that final play of the Indiana Pacers' win over the Miami Heat

This appears on the NBA Philippines website

On that final play
by rick olivares

The Miami Heat’s March woes continued when they were pipped by the Indiana Pacers 84-83 at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana.

The two-time NBA defending champions had a chance to win it at the buzzer but Chris Bosh badly missed a shot with 7’2” Roy Hibbert charging out.

Heat head coach drew a play for Bosh with 1.8 seconds left after the Pacers’ George Hill missed two free throws.

In the ensuing play, Bosh faked off Hill but Hibbert, who later said, he thought the play wasn’t designed for LeBron James by reading the Heat’s star’s facial expression, ran out to help and the shot was some two feet short.

The Associated Press quoted Spoelstra as saying it was his fault for the final play. “Unfortunately, that is what I diagrammed,” the fourth year head coach said. “It probably wasn’t the best call and might be a little bit too gunslinger. With the game that LeBron had, obviously, you’d want to get him the ball.”

James, who caught the inbounds pass and whipped the ball directly to Bosh, declined to elaborate when asked about his thoughts on the play call.

“That’s the play we drew up,” James said in a hushed tone. “We ran a play.”

BUT… in defense of Coach Spo… in the previous play, it was Bosh who hit the three from the same spot he would later attempt the game winner that cut Indiana’s lead to one, 84-83.

There are two schools of thought here.

I thought of two plays.

One, Game Three of the 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks with the latter holding a two games to none lead. With 1.8 seconds – the same amount of time that Chris Bosh had -- left and the score tied at 102-all, Chicago Bulls head coach Phil Jackson drew the final play for rookie Toni Kukoc to take the shot. Bulls star Scottie Pippen was miffed that he wasn’t going to take the final shot and he asked out of the play.

Here is what many people conveniently forget. In the Bulls’ penultimate play, there was a 24-second shot clock violation when Scottie Pippen missed a trey attempt that only hit the top of the back board.

It should also be noted that Patrick Ewing scored on two consecutive drives to the basket that evened up the count. So does it mean that when a player is feeling it and is hot then he should get the basket?

Kukoc on the other hand, had hit three game winners for Chicago that season. So Phil thought of that too. Both Phil and Kukoc were redeemed on that play when the Croatian Sensation nailed the turnaround jumper (am not sure if it was over Charles Oakley) for the 104-102 win.

So maybe Spoelstra was going with the rhythm of the last few seconds. 

But the other school of thought is to go to your Main Man. Would Phil give the ball to Michael Jordan if he were in a Bulls uniform that day? You bet he would.

So here was my other thought. The scene from Hoosiers where Gene Hackman calls the final play for Brad Long’s character of Buddy Walker instead of star Jimmy Chitwood (played by Maris Valainis) who got them to the State Finals. There are long faces when the play isn’t for Chitwood and Hackman’s Norman Dale character asks what’s wrong. Chitwood then says, “I’ll make it.” The play is redrawn and Chitwood makes good on his promise for the State Championship.

In hindsight, should the play have gone to LeBron James since he scored 14 points inside against the Pacers, the most he’s done in three matches against Indiana?

Of course, hindsight is 20/20.

If Bosh had hit the shot then he’d be hailed a hero and Spoelstra a genius in the vein of Jackson. Okay, as good as Spo is maybe that’s still a stretch but still…. Spo has earned his spurs.

This is just basketball. Some teams win. Some teams lose.

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