Let’s be clear on one thing right off the top: last night’s game should not have come down to a last second desperation three-point attempt for the tie. The New York Knicks gave up on the 2009-2010 season in 2008 and were playing without several starters (Al Harrington, Wilson Chandler, Tracy McGrady). When you allow Earl Barron to do his best Willis Reed impersonation and go off for 17 points and 18 rebounds, you shouldn’t expect to win. Alas, the game unfortunately hinged on a last second play that Doc Rivers drew up for a Ray Allen three point attempt. So why was Rasheed the one trying to jack it up well after the buzzer sounded at Madison Square Garden?
After the game, Rondo claimed that he didn’t think Ray was open enough and that the Knicks (yes the Knicks!) played solid defense on their play. Ray Allen disagreed. He thought he was open enough for Rondo to give him the ball. Watch the highlight below and judge for yourself (watch at the 0:49 mark)
This isn’t the best highlight to analyze, but it looks like Ray might be correct, for a fraction of a second anyway.
Kevin Garnett sets a perfect screen on Chirs Duhon to allow Ray to get open for that fraction of a second:
Around the 0:51 mark, you can see that Ray is open for about 0.3 seconds, but Danilo Gallinari does a good job of denying him the ball:
Just 0.1 seconds later, Gallinari has closed off the passing angle for Rondo to work with:
One could argue that Rondo could have still made the pass to Ray. It would have had to been a lob-pass over the tall Gallinari, with Ray being pushed out about 3 feet behind the 3-point line. This is undoubtedly within Allen’s range, but the lob pass would A) take more time off the clock and B) make Ray catch it high and shoot an unbalanced three over the taller Gallinari, most likely falling away. Ray is more than capable of making difficult and clutch shots, as evidenced in last year’s playoffs against the Chicago Bulls (just ask Joakim Noah).
Either way, this desperation play was executed horribly. That’s proved to be consistent however with the way they played for most of that game. So whose opinion is correct, Rondo or Ray? I go with Doc: “I thought we absolutely deserved that,’’ Rivers said. “I would have liked to win, but when you play with that kind of focus, you lose basketball games. There’s other games where we just didn’t play well or whatever. Tonight, I was disappointed. It was a tough game to watch throughout. You just see it not being there. Just the defensive lapses. To me that’s just a direct result of focus.’’