This is exactly why the Miami Heat’s acquisition of Ray Allen is going to be such a problem for opposing defenses.
The Nuggets did almost everything right against the Heat on Saturday, yet still lost to the defending champs by a final of 119-116. That’s because with the game on the line, and Denver leading by a single point, the team had to choose between collapsing on LeBron James on the drive, or defending Allen in the corner.
They couldn’t do both, and the Nuggets chose poorly. Corey Brewer decided to give help on the drive, leaving Allen just enough space for LeBron to get him the ball so he could drain the game-winning shot.
Kenneth Faried is as athletic as they come, and in hindsight (without knowing what the instructions from the bench were) I think I would have had Faried play James straight up on the drive. Best case is you get James to force a tough shot over an able shot-blocker, and worse case is James gets fouled and has to make a couple of free throws to give his team the one-point lead.
The least desirable situation is to leave Allen alone in the corner, and then to foul him once the ball is out to give him the four-point play opportunity. It’s a dilemma teams will face all season long, and one that more often than not will see the game decided in the Heat’s favor.
Allen finished with 23 points, but 12 of those came in the final period. Chris Bosh dropped in 40 for the Heat, while the Nuggets saw a more balanced attack that netted them a 72-40 points in the paint advantage. Denver owned the glass as well, finishing the night with 47 rebounds to just 32 for Miami.
All of that is to say the Nuggets did everything they could have to get a road win over Miami. Unfortunately, their defensive decision-making on the Heat’s final offensive possession ended up costing them.
Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.
In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).
Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.
Jazz: Dante Exum undergoing surgery after shoulder injury
The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum who suffered a separated left shoulder on October 6 vs. Phoenix.
After further evaluation, Exum (6-6, 190, Australia) has elected to undergo surgery to stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The surgery is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 24 in Los Angeles. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.
Exum (obviously) didn’t receive a contract extension before today’s deadline, so he’ll become a free agent next summer. After one full missed season already and two years of limited effectiveness, it’s not even clear Utah will extend Exum a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. The former No. 5 pick almost certainly won’t meet the starter criteria, which means his qualifying offer would be worth $4,333,931 (down from $6,619,903 based on his draft slot).