Ask the Czar

Jonathan from Washington DC has a great question:

I notice for most NBA games the visiting team selects to shoot at its own basket in the first half compared to high school or college when teams don’t shoot at their own basket until the second half.  What is the competitive advantage gained by a team shooting at its own basket in the first half compared to waiting until the second half?

Whether a team would rather have their offense or defense in front of their bench in the second half of a game depends on how the coaches feel they can best help out their players from the sidelines.

In a close game some coaches prefer to have their offense in front of them in the last half so they can call out plays and give directives during the crucial final minutes.

When I was coaching I usually liked to have the other team’s offense and our defense in front of our bench at the end of a game. Once we heard the opposing team’s guard call a play we let our guys know what was coming so they could break it up and stop them from scoring.

Ask the Czar

Jonathan from Washington D.C. has a question about sideline strategies:

I notice for most NBA games the visiting team selects to shoot at its own basket in the first half compared to high school or college when teams don’t shoot at their own basket until the second half. What is the competitive advantage gained by a team shooting at its own basket in the first half compared to waiting until the second half?

It boils down to whether the coaching staff would rather have their own offense or the opposing team’s offense in front of their bench during the second half so they can yell out calls to their players and help them out in critical moments.

Some coaches feel it is more important to direct their team’s offense at the end of the game when execution potentially matters most. However, when I was coaching I usually preferred to have our defense in front of us so that we could communicate with our guys after the opposing guard called out a play. Once we knew what was coming we could signal from the sidelines to help our team make defensive stops and prevent game-winning baskets.

Ask the Czar

Gary from Fredon, New Jersey has a question about New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni:

What is ‘different’ about Mike D’Antoni’s offense compared to what other teams in the NBA run? The usual explanation is his teams have good floor spacing and run a lot of pick and roll. But I’d imagine that every team in the league does that.

Coach D’Antoni assigns more responsibility to his point guard than do some of the other coaches in the league. D’Antoni puts the ball in the hands of the PG and lets him pound the ball until he can make a play happen, as opposed to other coaches who emphasize passing and ball movement. D’Antoni utilizes multiple pick-and-rolls to enable the point guard to create a shot for himself or his teammate.

D’Antoni also values the 3-pointer as an offensive weapon, so he likes to play a power forward who can shoot threes and to give guys like Amar’e Stoudemire the green light to attack from beyond the arc.

Ask the Czar

Carl from Aurora wants to revisit the rulebook:

In the last two minutes of the Bulls/Celtics game on Sunday, the ball hit two different Bulls players before hitting Paul Pierce last, who was completely out of bounds, and the ball was awarded to the Bulls. Why not the Celtics? The Celtic player was all the way out and was not in the field of play at all. Why was the ball awarded to the Bulls and not to the Celtics? I´m unclear on this rule, please clear it up for me. 

Carl, I understand your confusion. Since the Bulls were the last players to make contact with the basketball inbounds before it crossed the out-of-bounds line, it seems they should have been faulted rather than rewarded with the ball. However, a closer look at the game rules will help make sense of this call. According to Rule No. 8, Section II (c) in the Official Rules of the NBA for the 2011-2012 season: The ball is caused to go out-of-bounds by the last player to touch it before it goes out, provided it is out-of-bounds because of touching something other than a player. If the ball is out-of-bounds because of touching a player who is on or outside a boundary, such player caused it to go out.

If the basketball had ricocheted off the Bulls players and bounced on the floor out-of-bounds before hitting Pierce, then the officials would have awarded possession to the Celtics. Unfortunately Pierce was standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because the ball hit Pierce first and the ground second, it was rightfully called out-of-bounds off of Pierce and turned over to Chicago.

Ask the Czar

Great question from my man Paxton:

Hi. I am a fifth grader and I am working on a science fair project. I have a question for you. Do you think it’s easier shooting with a net or without one?

Thanks for your thought-provoking question Paxton. I don’t know the science behind it, but I do believe it’s easier to sink a shot when there’s a net than it is to make a basket without one.

Good luck at the fair. Hope your project is a slam dunk!

Copyright 2003 NBAE - Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/ NBAE via Getty Images

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