In Sunday’s Game 4 buzzer beater win against the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James not only hit the shot that won them the game, but also rejected the final play from Cavaliers head coach. Cavaliers head coach David Blatt’s final play would have had James inbounding the ball, not taking the crucial game winning shot.
LeBron James said the following about the final play.
“To be honest, the play was drawn up, I scratched it… I just told coach, ‘Just give me the ball. We either going to go into overtime or I’ma win if for us.’ It was that simple.”
James continued, saying as follows.
“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 go in.’ So I told him to have somebody else take the ball out, give me the ball and everybody get out of the way.”
Blatt though had no hard feelings against James. As soon as James learned that the play Blatt had drawn up had him put the ball in, he “scratched” out the play, instead insisting that he have the ball for the final shot.
David Blatt said the following about James’ call for the ball in the final 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.”
The game winning play had James getting the ball at the baseline, hitting the shot at the buzzer. It was the third buzzer beater in the playoffs over the weekend.
Blatt the following said about the final play.
“We thought about a couple 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 on the court where the ball was. We went with that and he made a great shot.”
The final 20 seconds of the game were as riveting as James’ buzzer beater shot. After James committed a turnover, Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose managed to tie the game at 84-84. Then Blatt nearly committed a major blunder, attempting to call a time out that the Cavaliers did not have. A blunder that would have resulted in the Cavaliers being assessed a technical foul.
Blatt said as follows about the late game error.
“Usually [I] don’t lose track of them [timeouts], that’s usually what happens… Matter of fact, that’s never happened before in my time as a coach. Good thing I had great guys behind me to bail me out and then a great player to bail us all out with a terrific shot… A near-mistake was made and I owned up to it and I own it. A basketball coach makes 150 to 200 critical decisions during the course of a game, something I think is paralleled only by a fighter pilot. If you do it for twenty-seven years, you’re going to blow one or two. And I blew one. Fortunately it didn’t cost us.”
Game 5 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls is scheduled for Tuesday in Cleveland.