Would Lowry have been able to make that pass to OG at the end of Game 3 on any other NBA court?
Would Lowry have been able to make that play with the typical cramped sideline spacing between him and Tacko?
I know Thursday night's Game 3 loss seems like forever ago and the final play as been directed ad nauseam. With that disclaimer out of the way, I was talking to tb727 last night and he brought up what I thought was a fantastic insight. He said the only reason that Kyle Lowry was able to make a cross court pass over the tallest player in the league was because he backed up. And the only reason he was able to back up, is because there is considerably more spacing on both the sidelines and baselines at the bubble court.
While I was not a fan of the Celtics zoning up that final 0.5 seconds, defending the inbounder is the right call. And reality is the Raptors needed the Celtics to be a step behind, Lowry to make the perfect pass, and OG Anunoby to catch it cleanly, release the 3-pointer prior to his full jump, and make the shot to win the game. Credit to OG for getting his part done and obviously credit to Lowry for making a pass that had a difficulty likely over 95%, but if this was in any other arena and Tacko is considerably closer to Lowry, what would the degree of difficulty have been? 98% 99% 99.5?
The only way to get a shot off with 0.5 seconds left is to catch it cleanly and to release quickly. The Celtics less than stellar defense on that final play still would have prevented any chance for the Raptors to win in any other NBA arena. With that said, both teams and coaches should be aware of the extra space by now, so not saying there's no one to blame. And the extra space on the sidelines and baseline I believe is much safer for NBA players, especially the latter where guys are coming in hot and have to avoid all these cameramen. I think some of the gruesome injuries at the hoop would have been avoided without the cameramen so close. Paul George for Team USA I think it was comes to mind off the bat.
This series is not over. It wasn't over after the Celtics won two games and it isn't over after the Raptors have won two. But if the Raptors end up prevailing they can thank the extra breathing room for Lowry some for an assist.