(NYP) New York Post: Knicks' D'Antoni defends decision not to foul Celtics

It looks like very specious reasoning of the kind we see in our field here but I don't know enough about basketball to call it out. Certainly when you don't foul someone, the opponent is more likely to have had a bad shot, so the statistics of 93% when you don't foul them are wrong. But there are other things wrong also. D'Antoni has lost so many of these games you'd think he'd rethink. It also must be demoralizing to stand so far away from your opponent that you don't foul them, and make you play worse defense. The not asking his defensive coordinator is a signal that he's too up in air with his TV programs.

Pitt T. Maner III writes:

The following paper shows a decision tree for the college game given a similar situation.

It addresses this question and concludes that, contrary to popular belief, intentionally fouling is preferable to playing tight defense.

Drawing on the Gonzaga/Michigan State game for inspiration…

The opportune time for the Knicks to have fouled might have been during the exchange between Garnett and P Pierce before the act of shooting could occur. Pierce hits about 80% of his free throws and 37% of his 3 pointers.

Pro 3-pt. line is further out but Paul Pierce against passive hands up and no jumping defenders would seem to be better than 1/10.





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5 Comments so far

  1. Mark Candon on March 7, 2012 10:37 am

    Firstly, if the Knicks had a foul to give (admittedly not likely with 10 seconds to go) they could have fouled any Celtic and taken precious seconds off the clock.

    I don’t go for all these papers and equations. They should have fouled Rondo if possible, but not Pierce. A good coach would get his team to force the ball to the worst foul shooter, and then foul that guy. That’s not in any equation. It’s situational.

    I’m a Celtic fan still enjoying game 4 of the 2008 Finals against the Lakers. Nine of 10 ESPN experts picked the Lakers in that series, and Boston was down 24 points in the first half. Never say die is food for a lifetime.

  2. steve on March 7, 2012 12:35 pm

    The rules in College basketball are very different than pro basketball. One in particular.

    Mich st. scores a basket. Mich calls time out. Mich must inbound behind the Mich St. basket.

    NY vs Heat. NY makes a basket. Heat call time out. They inbound in the offensive court just ahead of the mid court line. HUGE ADVANTAGE.

    By rule. in pros I believe 0.3 seconds or more give the offense one chance for a catch and shoot.

    In practice. The average ft% in pros is easily over 70% for the team. Reggie Miller was in the 90’s Shaq is a lifetime 50% er as is Dwight Howard.

    college ft% is way below that of the pros.

    In pros management of the clock is critical at the 1 min 30 sec point. The old adage that in a close game if it is going to happen it will happen during the last 5 minutes of the game. That is an eternity in sports.

    In pros managing the clock is an art. 24 seconds per possession.
    In college time of possession is 35 seconds.

  3. Pitt Maner on March 8, 2012 1:22 pm

    The college game is indeed different but the thought, however, was that a decision tree could be constructed for the Knicks-Celtics situation to examine the actual probabilities involved.

    Some believe probability rules were not used to the Knicks advantage in the game in question and that pro basketball coaches in general may not be consistently using analytics in game situations.

    From Zach Lowe of

    “The Knicks and Celtics played another nutty game on Sunday, and’s John Hollinger says several coaching decisions in crunch time went against basic probability rules, showing how analytics guys in some franchises are far from convincing their coaches to consistently apply math in real-time game situations. Most NBA stats folks I know agree coaches wait too long to begin fouling when they are trailing late in games. New York’s decision not to foul down by five with about 35 seconds left in overtime was mathematically ludicrous.”

    from website

  4. André René Roussimoff on March 8, 2012 1:42 pm

    Steve. You said “In practice. The average ft% in pros is easily over 70% for the team. Reggie Miller was in the 90’s Shaq is a lifetime 50% er as is Dwight Howard.

    college ft% is way below that of the pros. ”

    FYI, this article ( says:

    “”Since the mid-1960s, college men’s players have made about 69 percent of free throws, the unguarded 15-foot, 1-point shot awarded after a foul. In 1965, the rate was 69 percent. This season, as teams scramble for bids to the N.C.A.A. tournament, it was 68.8. It has dropped as low as 67.1 but never topped 70.

    In the National Basketball Association, the average has been roughly 75 percent for more than 50 years. Players in college women’s basketball and the W.N.B.A. reached similar plateaus — about equal to the men — and stuck there. “”

    It is an interesting question as to weather or not that 75% is “easily” over 70% or if 68-69 % is “way below” 75%, and more importantly if that is a big enough percentage to affect the coach’s decision.

    Also, for what it is worth, Reggie Miller comes in at .888

  5. vic on March 8, 2012 11:33 pm

    The worst thing about it, a signal of total depravity in any field was when dantoni was asked if he discussed it with the defensive coach . and he said “No. i never thought about it. I am the one who gets fired “> He had no thought at all in the unguarded m oment for the team, and winning but only thought of his own miserable life expectancy. vic


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