Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Second Guessing Dunleavy

Three losses, three decisions for the media to carp about.
  • Game 1 it was resting Elton Brand 100 seconds in the 4th.
  • Game 3 it was leaving Cassell on the bench for most of the 4th.
  • Game 5 it was putting Daniel Ewing into the game with 3.6 seconds left in OT and not using their foul to give.
Obviously second-guessing coaches is a grand tradition, and is probably the single biggest reason that there is such a thing as a 'blog' in the first place. But these are all non-events.

If you were watching game 1, you know that Elton was tired. The foul he committed on Diaw precipitating the substitution was basically Elton deciding that he needed to rest right then, rather than play defense. I have a problem with the fact that he put in Kaman, who proceeded to turn the ball over on an offensive foul, but Elton needed the rest.

If you were watching game 3, you know that the Clippers turned a 9 point deficit into a 3 point lead with Cassell on the bench. Did we want Dunleavy to put Cassell back in while the lead was 3? Well, that doesn't make much sense, as you're still at your high-water mark, and it seems reasonable to stay with the group that got you there. So, complaining that Cassell only played 35 seconds in the quarter is disingenuous in the extreme. Most of that time, the Clippers were killing the Suns, and with the benefit of hindsight, Cassell should have played, maybe 75 seconds. Big deal.

As for game 5, the decision to put Ewing (and McCarty) in the game ice cold after sitting since half time is certainly debatable, but it's pure Dunleavy. He obsesses over every matchup, and if he had enough time outs, he'd play offense-defense the entire game. If pushed, I might wonder why you put the 6'3" Ewing on the 6'5" Bell while QRoss (6'6") is on Barbosa (6'3"). It's not just that the extra length would have been nice in retrospect. Isn't Ross supposed to be the best defender? And wasn't Bell the ONLY Sun even remotely warm from 3 point land with Tim Thomas fouled out? As for the foul to give, Charles Barkley can yell and scream about it all he wants, but Ewing would have had to foul BEFORE the pass on that play in order to avoid a 3 shot foul and a possible 4 point play. Do the math. He did the catch and shoot in about a half a second - no referee in the world is going to call that a non-shooting foul. Ewing's mistake was letting Bell get separation and get behind the arc. From that point, he did what he could, and Bell made a tough shot.