Tag Archives: San Antonio Spurs

Stop Fouling, Just Play

When talking about how a team should do things in the NBA it’s easy to point to the San Antonio Spurs. They’ve won the most games over the last 10 years. They play the best basketball. They draft well, and never give out bad contracts. They have the best coach that even when he rests his stars can get productivity out of a bunch of scrubs.

So when this team perseveres with a bad play, it’s very odd. What I’m talking about is the Hack-a-DJ strategy that they’ve used throughout their series with the Clippers. And it’s pissing me off.

“I really like watching this guy shoot free throws” – said no one, ever.

The Clippers have an Offensive rating of 112.4, so they score 1.12 point per possession. DJ is a career 42% from the free throw line, so if he shoots 2 FTAs that’s 0.84 point per possession.

0.84 is less than 1.12, what are you complaining about? Intentionally fouling him is clearly a good idea?

There’s more to it that that.

If DJ misses his 2nd attempt the Clippers can rebound it, which they do at an about average rate as his misses fall further away from the rim.

It’s harder for Spurs offensively after these FTAs. It’s harder for an offence to score against a set defence that occurs after FTA (or a made bucket). By putting DJ at the line the Spurs wont be scoring any fast breaks, or exploiting any mismatches than can occur when a defensive rebound has been grabbed. It’s not like the Spurs have a bad defence, they have the 2nd best Defensive rating in the league.

Repeating fouling someone obviously puts your own players in foul trouble, the Spurs have even used Tim Duncan to foul him and then get taken out! I saw them intentionally foul to get themselves into the penalty, then Chris Paul was able to get the line without shooting fouls. This is a 86% FT shooter FFS.

The Spurs seem to have a inconsistent approach to intentionally fouling DeAndre Jordan. They’ve done it when they been winning, when they’ve been losing. If he somehow makes both FTs then they have stopped doing it for a stretch. Often I’ve seen them do it when they’re winning but they’ll foul early into the shot clock. At least let some more clock run out rather than extend the game.

In this series the Spurs have a massive advantage in terms of the strengths of depth. The Clippers have 3 bums in Austin Rivers, Big baby & Spencer Hawes coming off the bench. Clippers have had to play their starters big minutes as a result. So when Chris Paul has his hands on his knees, and is sucking air, having a large number of free throws lets him and the other Clippers’ starters get some much needed rest.

Spurs should have won this series in spite of this stupid strategy, now they could be eliminated in the first round. I’ll be watching the decider tonight, I haven’t got any bets on it (yet). My thought are now that I may be backing the Clippers in-play if I spot value.



I backed the Clippers mid way in the 4th quarter when trailing by 4 after Pop called for an intentional foul on DJ. Clippers went on to win an epic…