The Inbounds Play – It’s Not Rocket Science

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In every sport, there are quite simplistic maneuvers that must be executed in order for a team to be successful. In football, snapping the ball or handing it off correctly cannot be avoided if winning is the goal. Now in basketball, a simple play such as passing the ball in has given the Cavaliers nightmares all year long.

If a fan were to come up to me at the beginning of the season saying, “Hey Zach, inbounds plays are going to give the Cavaliers nightmares this year.” I most likely would have chuckled, thinking that we would definitely have problems but on the big-boy variety. I believe it was third grade when my coach first taught our rec. league team simple inbounds plays.

We’ll rewind to January 20th in a game against the Dallas Mavericks at the Q. The Cavs were down 24 points in the first half, and it was still a 15 point deficit early in the 4th quarter. The Clevelanders clashed and clawed their way back to a score of 100-97. Dallas point guard Monta Ellis was at the line for two shots with just a few seconds to go. First one…clank…second one…clank.

There’s 2.8 seconds left, and the Cavaliers are poised to tie this game completing their amazing comeback. We’re thinking, “Who’s gonna shoot it? Kyrie? Dion? No one?” Hey, I got it. Jarrett Jack couldn’t even get the ball in to a shooter! With the opportunity to tie the game up, the Cavaliers lost their chance due to a silly five second violation.

That Mavericks loss was devastating, as it came right after our decent road trip out west.

Other instances have occurred with Earl Clark catching the ball out of bounds (thank God he’s gone), timeouts desperately being burned, and passes flying everywhere but to its intended receiver. Feels like I’m talking about the Browns…

Sadly, Monday night’s win over the (39-31) Toronto Raptors was no different for this Cavaliers club. Up 102-100 with just under 10 seconds remaining, all the Cavaliers had to do was pass the ball in, presumably to be fouled. Two makes at the line, and it’s a ball game. Easy as pie, right?

WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

First try: Luol Deng the inbounder. One….two…..three….timeout Cavs.

Second try: Anderson Varejao the inbounder. One…two…three…Varejao flips the ball over everyone’s head and it floats right out of bounds. He was attempting to connect with Luol Deng who was cutting back door. Deng was held, but a foul was not called. Although, Varejao’s pass was errant, and may not have been caught anyways.

Luckily, the Cavs were able to get a stop and win a game that should have already been over. Say Toronto does tie or win that game, it’d be due to a silly inbounds miscue. Simply just unacceptable.

As a lifelong Cavaliers fan, the fact that my team cannot execute rountine inbounds plays during crunch time is very disheartening. I understand that the defense is a lot more intense, but an NBA team needs to run a clean inbounds play every single time. If you make a mistake one time, fine. However, I believe this is the fifth or sixth time this has happened this season. The mistakes truly do have an impact on the outcome.

Good basketball teams go beyond just executing the fundamentals, yet our Cavaliers can’t even throw the damn ball in. This better be fixed for next season.

-Zach Shafron

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