The Raptors got the ball at mid-court off a timeout in both games. Against the Suns on Sunday, Triano opted for the quick two. Anthony Parker received the in-bounds pass at the top of the key, drove right and banked a lay-up just short. Bosh missed a put-back, and the clock ran all the way down to 0.5 in the scramble. Game over.
A few key factors probably influenced Triano's decision here. First, and most important, his two best three-point shooters (Jason Kapono and Jose Calderon) were out with injuries; that left Bargnani (42.5 percent) and Parker (40 percent) as the remaining options for a game-tying three. Second, Shaq had fouled out of the game. Maybe Triano thought Parker would have an easier time finishing without the Daddy around the rim.
About 26 hours (and one flight to Atlanta) later, the Raps found themselves in an identical situation after Joe Johnson hit a contested 18-footer to put the Hawks up 87-84.
(Side note: The Hawks have no such dilemmas with their last-second offense, as we C's fans found out last spring. The play is simple: Give the ball to Johnson and watch him either drive and draw a foul; post up and hit a turnaround jumper; or drive and pull-up for the J. It's time to start talking about Joe Johnson as one of the best finishers in the game. Or maybe it just seems that way--Johnson's "clutch" FG% is just 33 percent this year, and it was well under 40 percent last year, according to 82games.com. I will heretofore dub this the Kobe Effect, defined as: "When a player creates the popular notion that he is clutch simply by taking so many late-game shots that he inevitably hits enough to create this impression, even if it is not true").
Kapono was in the lineup this time, and Triano opted to send him around a baseline screen for a three from the right wing. Kapono couldn't shake his man and tossed up an airball under extreme duress. Game over.
So Triano tried both strategies and neither worked. Someone (82games.com? Bill James?) should do a study on which strategy gives better odds of sending the game into overtime, and what amount of time remaining is the cut off after which you must go for the tie. I don't have a clue what Triano should have done in these situations. My hunch, though, is that with 12.5 seconds left, the right play is to go for the tie--especially since a quick two isn't a guarantee. But that's just my hunch. What are your thoughts?