Down by three. Fourteen seconds left. Who do you give the basketball to?
The Detroit Pistons found themselves in this very predicament against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night. They chose Blake Griffin to get ball, twice. Why not? He is the team’s leading scorer this season, and had posted a triple-double.
Three points pushes the game to overtime, and when searching for ice in the veins it should start with the stars. Well, some stars. It did not take a genius to know that Andre Drummond would not be releasing a three ball when it mattered.
So, Griffin gets the ball and releases a shot from beyond the arc. It misses. The Pistons recover the ball one more time. Jose Calderon dribbles the ball through the middle and passes it to Griffin one more time. He steps back, no one around him, and up it goes.
In that moment, who should have been chosen to take the shot? Smart money says Reggie Bullock. That is exactly why he was blanketed during that final play. There is no way he would have been able to shake free and bury the shot. And Calderon simply cannot be trusted to shoot.
That leaves one guy on the floor. Stanley Johnson. Entering the game he was 28.2 percent (29-103) from three point range. He entered the fourth quarter with six points on one three, a two pointer, and a free throw. By the end of the game, he had 24 points with five makes from beyond. Johnson had the hot hand, knocking everything down.
Griffin, Drummond, Calderon, Bullock, and Johnson. Who do you pick to take that last second shot?
Before the game Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer was quoted as saying, “I think that Blake Griffin is such a force offensively.”
Remember, he sees the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo, every single night. That is a dominant offensive player. Against the Pistons he put up 32 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. To see that kind of performance every day and still call Griffin a force should mean something.
One more time. Who do you give the ball to with the game on the line?
Answer, Blake Griffin.
When it comes down to the wire in the NBA, it is a really simple choice. Yes, Johnson had the hot hand, but when time starts to expire that is when the stars shine brightest. Drummond was not taking that shot, ever. But I give that ball to Griffin every single time. He might have missed one, but he is the driving force of the offense. It should always be him with the pressure on his shoulders.
Trevor Hooth is a media relations intern for the Detroit Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate, Toledo Mud Hens, and a former intern in the 760-AM WJR sports department.