The take foul ruins the late game tension. It's time for the NBA to make a change

On Monday night, Oklahoma City Thunder center Chet Holmgren hit two free throws with 9.4 seconds left in Game 4 against the Dallas Mavericks. They were huge brands that brought the Thunder closer to the top of the series.

The Mavericks had no more timeouts. They needed to storm across the pitch to get back into the sport. At this point, fans must have been wondering in the event that they were about to witness a once-in-a-lifetime playoff moment. Would Luka Dončić put a tricky night behind him and provides his team a lift? Would Kyrie Irving add to his impressive highlight reel of great playoff moments? Would Shai Gilgeous-Alexander strip someone within the backcourt and provides them an incredible night? After moving to the 3-point arc, would Holmgren rush and send a shot into Dallas' night?

Instead, Gilgeous-Alexander intentionally fouled PJ Washington because the Mavericks moved the ball around seeking to make a play. The Thunder led by three points. It was the suitable step. With so little time remaining, it made sense to offer up a maximum of two points if the lead was three. The Dallas forward shared two free throws with 3.2 seconds left, Gilgeous-Alexander hit each at the opposite end and that was it. Thunder victory.

Pretty disappointing, isn't it?

(Tim Heitman/Getty Images)

Casual NBA viewers often criticize that games take too long to finish. These complaints are legitimate and the league has taken a few of them into consideration. Before the 2017-18 season, the NBA modified its rules to limit teams to 2 timeouts in the ultimate three minutes of games, as a substitute of the previous three timeouts in the ultimate two minutes.

Well, here's one other problem: In the situation the Thunder faced Monday night, teams usually are not encouraged to defend without fouling. Free throws are one in every of the least interesting and time-consuming parts of basketball, and the character of the rule means there are more of them, not less. Worst of all, it robs viewers of probably iconic moments.

Then let's change the principles. Here are two suggestions.

1. If your opponent is within the bonus and also you win by three or more points and also you foul your opponent beyond the 3-point arc, your opponent gets three free throws.

2. In the identical scenario, there may be an extension of the present “take foul” rule whereby the trailing/fouled team robotically receives a free throw and possession of the ball. This is my preferred option.

It could seem counterintuitive to make use of the specter of more free throws to scale back the variety of free throws near the top of a game, however the free throw is probably the most efficient shot in the sport. In the primary proposal, a team would give the opponent a probability to tie the sport on the free throw line. In the second case, a scenario could possibly be arrange by which the opponent could win with a made free throw followed by a made 3 (or a tie with a made free throw and a 2). No team will specifically pursue these options.

There are possible gaps, which I’ll discuss in additional detail in a moment. The current rules encourage players and coaches to think about three scenarios, all of which contradict the spirit of the sport.

1. Prioritize foul play over non-foul defense. This results in an interesting philosophical debate, but anything that deviates from deciding the sport with the clock running is suboptimal.

2. If the trailing team thinks an opponent is attempting to commit a foul, their players might attempt to rise up for an unnatural shot while the leading team tries to make use of the strategy. This is just one other option to trick referees into calling a foul by attempting unnatural shots, an activity the league is actively attempting to curb.

3. If a player is down by three in the ultimate seconds and makes the primary of two free throws, he will probably be asked to miss the subsequent free throw in a fashion that maximizes the opportunity of an offensive rebound leading to one other field goal leads try. Why do now we have a system that encourages intentional misses? (On Monday, Washington missed the primary free throw. Instead of attempting to miss the second for an offensive rebound and a potentially game-winning 3-point attempt, he made it.)

There are contrasts here, and I’m not claiming that any of the above suggestions can be an ideal solution. Most importantly, teams have 47 minutes and 36 seconds to avoid a three-point deficit with the shot clock turned off. Speaking of free throws, the Mavericks missed 11 of their 23 attempts on Monday. The thunderclap in Washington was not the principal reason for Dallas' defeat.

And what concerning the team that takes the lead? This team is intentionally fouled more often than the team behind as a way to extend the competitive portion of the sport. Well, the second a part of that sentence is the crucial part, isn't it? Given the specificity of the scenario, I even have no problem with a rule that applies to 1 team but not the opposite.

Finally, such a rule could encourage a distinct type of flattery: a player on the back team creating unnatural contact to achieve the advantage created by one other rule designed to assist the team gain possession of the ball. However, that may only mean exchanging one type of racketeering for one more. There isn’t any net gain in deceiving the referee.

Of course, such a rule change would also produce other unintended consequences. I'm all for tracking them down and attempting to give you the perfect rule possible. What I do know: Every basketball fan has a couple of shots or last-second throws that they are going to always remember. If anyone has an analogous list of “best ways to use a foul to maintain a lead,” I haven’t met them yet. I don't really need it either.

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