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Doc Rivers: Analytics suggest coach challenge should be used any time during NBA game

Los Angeles Clippers v Phoenix Suns

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 10: Head coach Doc Rivers of the LA Clippers watches from the bench during the first half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 10, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Mike D’Antoni was the first NBA coach to use a coach’s challenge in a preseason game earlier this week. Houston Rockets boss has always been a trendsetter, and the introduction of review in the NBA has been met with some push back.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers had to laugh about D’antoni using the coaches challenge in a preseason game. But perhaps more interestingly, Rivers said that the top minds in his own organization have put forth that the coaches challenge can be used at any time.


“It’s going to be something that is going to take a little bit for us to get used to and when to use it,” Rivers said. “My guess is we are going to use it first half, if it’s one of your better players that you think didn’t commit a foul, you may use it to make sure he gets the foul back. Analytically they said we should use it anytime, which I don’t agree with that. We’ll see how it goes.”

Coaches will likely try to reserve the challenge for end-of-game situational issues like Rivers referenced here. As per usual, that stands in contrast to what folks have told him about what the best move is from an analytics perspective.

It’ll be interesting to see how teams end up with or without challenges in end-of-game situations, and how fans respond to coach management of that asset.