Purposely missing free throws during basketball games is a well-known strategy, but it can be risky when contests are tight.
The Boston Celtics took that gamble Tuesday night with a one-point lead over the Portland Trail Blazers late in the game at Moda Center. Marcus Smart was fouled by Robert Covington with 3.5 seconds left on the clock, giving him two free shots from the charity stripe.
Smart missed the first shot, but surprised some when he missed his second.
Was this move intentional? Of course.
But head coach Brad Stevens said it is not something the team has practiced.
“It’s obvious they’re going to get a 3-point shot up in 3.5 seconds with no timeouts, most likely,” Stevens told reporters during his postgame press conference. “So, we want to make it as hard as possible so it wouldn’t matter if we were up one or two at that moment. It would be different if he made the first, we probably would have tried to make the second. You have such a better chance of taking time away with them catching the ball and going towards their basket.”
The Celtics ultimately won the game, but the decision to keep it a one-point contests left plenty of fans on the edge of their seats.