Compare the tape between the clutch shots of the week from Golden State Warriors guard Monta Ellis. They're virtually the same play. Run the clock down. Isolate at the top of the key to get a one-on-one matchup with the defender. Take one step to the right. Cross over to the left. Dribble with the left hand. Take fadeaway shot. Bury it. Be a hero.
But there is one critical difference between the shot Ellis made against Tyreke Evans and the Kings versus the one he made against Brandon Rush and the Pacers. Against Indiana, the game was tied and the Mississippi Missile was going for the win. Against Sacramento, he was going for the tie. In one case, running the clock down is prudent; in the other, it's sheer folly.
Which leads you to wonder what exactly Warriors head coach Keith Smart told Ellis to do in the timeout.
Now, it doesn't make much sense to just drive to the hoop and take the best shot at the earliest convenience. But at least leave SOME time for an offensive rebound or another possession in case this one doesn't work out.
KEITH SMART: “He asked me, ‘Want me to go quick?’ I said, ‘Go when you need to.’ … And he made the right play.”
Obviously, if you let a player make a decision like that, you're going to get some interesting results. Tonight it worked out for Golden State. Interestingly enough, Ellis admitted in the post-game conference he had no intention of taking a three and was going for the tie. Which makes the strategy a little more intriguing (give Sacramento as little time as possible), although it's still very strange (a miss means you lose).
The Warriors escaped some questionable coaching thanks to the clutchness of Ellis, but down the line you wonder if you'll see this curious end-of-game management from Smart again.