The basic question has to be answered after a game like Monday's, when LeBron James buried a turnaround, falling-out-of-bounds three-pointer to send the Cleveland Cavaliers into overtime with the Wizards, is why not foul? Ask 100 different coaches and depending on the day or their most recent expereience the answer will change.
Kevin Love inbounded the ball over Markieff Morris standing a few feet off the baseline and launched it over the 6-10 forward for a perfect catch by James. He drained it over Bradley Beal, who he's at least 3-4 inches taller than, to tie the score at 120 to force the extra period.
The Cavs would win 140-135. But here are the issues to consider: When James caught the ball, he was inside the three-point arc. An immediate grasp and foul by Beal would've only resulted in a tie score if James had sank the shot while under wraps and made the foul shot.
Should Morris have been up closer on Love to create a more difficult? If Brooks had a chance to do it all over again, would he?
"We discussed that. At that moment he was catching an off-balance three that's tough," Brooks said about fouling to prevent the tying shot. "Guys are so good now with the long pass like that. They can catch and shoot at the same time they catch the ball. It's nobody's fault. You just witnessed a very good player make an incredible shot."
Beal couldn't foul before the ball was inbounded because it would result in free throws and the ball for Cleveland. In hindsight, he thought he should've done so.
Even the best of coaches have their decisions called into question when the result goes against them. In the 2013 NBA Finals and up 95-92, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pulled Tim Duncan off the court and it led to an offensive rebound for the Miami Heat. Chris Bosh grabbed it from Boris Diaw, Duncan's replacement, and kicked it out to Ray Allen for a three-pointer that forced overtime in Game 6.
The Heat would go on to win the series that the Spurs could've closed out that night. Popovich tried to match Miami's five smalls lineup by making the switch but didn't compensate for Bosh being re-inserted on the final possession.
Of course when you're playing poker with "play" money, the decision on whether or not to go all-in is so much easier. If Beal should foul (and I still think he should've), consider the Love-to-James inbound was a bang-bang play. It has to be an instant and definitive decision. If there is any hesitation, he can't commit to it. That's a lot of procesing of thought in a short time frame and the percentages say James probably misses that shot 9 out of 10 times.
James was 6 of 8 from three in the game and Love shot 6-for-10 from deep. Kyle Korver made 4 of 8. Even though Kyrie Irving shot just 2-for-7, he's known for making the impossible shots possible. Threes are Channing Frye's speciality and he was 1-for-3. Anyone else on Clevleand's roster, they can have that shot.
This, however, was the one time James makes it. If the Wizards are in a similar position later on in the season, will they change up?
The right answer depends on the day and the personnel on the floor – for both teams. If you subscribe to the theory that James gets "superstar" calls, that makes it even more complex.