clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Maurice Cheeks wanted Josh Smith to shoot (that airball)

Josh Smith's airball wasn't on purpose, but the play that led to it was.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

By now you may have heard that the Pistons had a chance to win on Tuesday night against the Knicks in the Garden. You also may have heard that Josh Smith airballed (a long two) his team's chances away in the final seconds.

You may not have heard that the Pistons ran the play that Maurice Cheeks drew up.

Via David Mayo of

Cheeks chose to save a 20-second timeout before Smith's final shot. He said he already had the play called and wanted to save the timeout for a subsequent possession change in case the Pistons didn't score.

There was no subsequent possession change because the Pistons -- who outrebounded the Knicks 54-38 -- couldn't get a defensive rebound of a missed free throw.

Regardless, Cheeks said the play he wanted was run, even if he might have wanted a different shot.

"I had a play in mind and they ran the play that I had in mind," Cheeks said. "I would have liked to have seen him drive it. He didn't drive it. I trust the shot that he took, it didn't go in, and we live with it."

One the one hand, Cheeks is talking to the press immediately after it was obvious that Josh Smith made a terrible play, and I don't fault him for defending his player. In fact, I think he should defend his players.

On the other hand, Cheeks didn't just defend his player - he stated explicitly that he trusted Josh Smith's long-range jumpshot, the very same jumpshot that goes in less than 30% of the time, and worse, he trusted that jumpshot with the game quite literally on the line.

That is the definition of terrible coaching.

It illustrates several horrifying realities. First, Cheeks has no idea how poorly Josh Smith shoots the ball from that distance. Or, it means he knows but still thinks that's a good shot, especially in crunch time. Second, it illustrates terrible clock and game management. You were saving that timeout for... what exactly? Third, it illustrates yet again that Cheeks is committed to Josh Smith as the guy for the Pistons. You have a timeout available, and you have better offensive options at your disposal - almost any other shot from any other player is a better option than that - but you ride it it with the worst of the available options.

And that last point is a whole lot scarier than Josh Smith's jumpshot. This is the way the Pistons play on purpose. Cheeks wants Josh Smith with the ball in his hands when the game is on the line, and he trusts the result.

I miss John Kuester and Lawrence Frank.

Hat tip to andyfochtman in the comments.