I was talking with my brother during the timeout with 15 seconds to go, and he said “Jeff, if I was the Oakland coach, I’d foul right away and play to win with the ball in my hands at the end of regulation.” When I reminded him that we were in the double bonus, he said :“I know, and I don’t care–even, down 1 or down 2, Oakland’s best chance is to take the last shot in regulation to win it. They’re not going to win in overtime–they’re the worse team, it’s their fourth game in five days, they can’t stop Hunter Dickinson down low, and we’re finally playing to that. A defensive breakdown, a lucky shot, a lucky bounce, that’s their best option.”
As unorthodox and counterintuitive as it sounds on first blush, the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that it’s the right play for Oakland. All of the things he mentioned before overtime were clear when the extra period rolled around. And it wasn’t as if what happened was unexpected. I know that I, and I think everyone else, absolutely wanted us to take the last shot of regulation with only a couple of seconds to go so that the worst thing which could happen was OT. As bad as we had played, I was extremely confident we would win if the game came down to five more minutes rather than a few seconds.