There were so many small factors that went against the New Orleans Pelicans on Stephen Curry’s insane game-tying three pointer in Game 3 of the playoffs.
After the game, many were asking the same question: why didn’t the Pelicans foul Stephen Curry before the shot that sent the game to overtime with 2.8 seconds left?
Fouling when you’re up by three points at the at the end of a game so the opposing team doesn’t have the chance to make a game-tying three pointer might be the most divisive tactic in the NBA.
Some believe you should always foul when you’re up three. Others think you should play out the possession.
The danger is that you could foul a shooter while he’s shooting a three-pointer, sending him to the free-throw line with a chance to tie the game. It also creates the possibility that a shooter could make the three-pointer and get fouled for a chance to win the game with a four-point play.
The Pelicans faced this dilemma Thursday night: up 108-105 with 9.6 seconds left, should they foul and send the Warriors to the line? Or should they let the defence play out the possession?
The Pelicans had several chances to foul Curry on the final possession, but it’s tough to blame them for not doing it. Quincy Pondexter, who guarded Curry, held off when Curry first caught the ball because it looked like he was going to shoot. Curry, the NBA’s most lethal three-point shooter, is the last person a defence wants to foul in the shooting motion.
As ProBasketball Talk’s Dan Feldman noted on the same subject, Curry took a dribble to his right after catching it, and that may have been the opportune moment to foul him.
Another mental lapse occurred when the Pelicans didn’t foul Marreese Speights on the offensive rebound. While Speights is an 84% free throw shooter, it would have ensured the Warriors wouldn’t get a look at a three-pointer.
Instead, of course, Speights got the ball to Curry in the corner and he hit the shot of the playoffs.
Pelicans coach Monty Williams said after the game, “They shouldn’t have even had that shot take place. We just didn’t execute. We were supposed to foul.”
The Pelicans were unlikely to win this series, but they nearly had Game 3 locked up. With another game at home, they’d be 2-1 with a chance to tie the series and make it really competitive.
Now they’re down 3-0, a deficit that’s never been surmounted in NBA playoff history, and likely facing elimination.
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