If Avery Johnson’s strategy at the end of Thursday night’s Nets-Celtics game seemed odd, that’s probably because it was.
During the final 19 seconds of Brooklyn’s 102-97 victory over Boston at Barclays Center, the Nets coach twice elected to foul and put the Celtics at the stripe with his team up four.
“Did you see Paul Pierce hit that pull-up 3-pointer (with 24 seconds left to get them within two)?” Johnson asked reporters. “I had in my mind that he was probably gonna do it again, so I played the foul game. It’s a coaching decision. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Teams don’t normally foul in a two-possession game. So why would Johnson? Does he not trust his defense?
“It’s not about trust. It’s a strategy. You do what you gotta do to win, and that’s what we thought was the appropriate strategy,” he replied.
The strategy ended up working because Deron Williams and Joe Johnson went 7-for-8 from the charity line in the final 43 seconds to secure the win.
“You have to make those free throws in that situation, because if you don’t, that tactic backfires,” said Williams, who nailed all six he attempted. “I was just happy I made the shots.”