At his Monday press conference, Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt discussed the wild final 20 seconds of Sunday’s Game 4 win over the Chicago Bulls.
Blatt said the idea that LeBron James unilaterally vetoed his original play call on the final possession of the game is a bit misleading.
LeBron said after Game 4 that Blatt originally called for him to make the inbounds pass, meaning he wouldn’t take the final shot. LeBron “scratched” that idea, he said, and took the shot himself.
Blatt said on Monday that the play that led to the game-winning shot was ultimately still his decision, but it came after LeBron strongly lobbied for the ball.
Blatt says he went with “what LeBron felt was the best option:”
“We thought about a couple of different things and then honestly it just came down to what LeBron felt was the best option based on his feeling of how he was being guarded and the position of the floor where the ball was, and we went with that. And he made a great shot.”
On whether LeBron vetoed the play:
“He didn’t veto the play. He just felt strongly about what a better situation would be, and as it turned out that was the right thing. It could have been the right thing the other way too. I said last night, and I’ll say it again, generally the guy who wants the check gets it. He really felt confident and sure of what that situation would bring about.”
He added, “Sometimes you go with your player’s feeling because you believe in what he can do. That at the end of the day was my decision to go with what he felt.”
One of the big questions after the game was why Blatt would have had LeBron throwing the inbounds pass to begin with. Here’s his explanation for that:
“He’s our biggest and best passer. He’s a guy who can make the right pass in that situation. But he’s also a guy who can, because of his size and length, catch-and-receive and get the shot up. That was the discussion and ultimately that was the decision and the way to go with it, and good it was.”
At his postgame press conference on Sunday night, Blatt didn’t mention that the play was originally drawn up for someone else.
“I was supposed to take the ball out. I told coach there’s no way I’m taking the ball out, unless I can shoot it over the backboard and it goes in. I told him, ‘Have somebody else take the ball out, give me the ball, and everybody get out of the way.'”
J.R. Smith’s account, via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, makes it sound like it was more of a discussion, as Blatt suggested:
“It was doubt at first because at first, Coach had LeBron taking the ball out. I’m like, ‘Are you sure?’ Then he went, ‘No, no, no, no, Bron, you get it.’ I’m like, ‘OK, we need to switch it up.’ Once we figured out who was definitely taking the ball out, I was like, ‘OK, now I’m sure he’s going to get it.'”
LeBron and Blatt continue to have a really an awkward relationship.
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