Published May 24, 2013
Deciding who plays, and when they don't, is one of the toughest parts of coaching.
Sometimes coaches stick with a player too long. Sometimes they have too much of a quick hook.
Indiana's Frank Vogel was still being criticized Thursday, long after he sent the Pacers out on the floor for the game's final possession in Miami without Roy Hibbert — and that wasn't even the first time he took heat this postseason for subbing out his big man.
From costly changes to untimely timeouts, here are some of the questionable coaching maneuvers in this year's playoffs.
Frank Vogel, Indiana, Eastern Conference finals, Game 1. Vogel took Roy Hibbert off the floor for Miami's final possession in favor of a smaller, quicker lineup that could make switches. But when he'd done the same thing on the previous possession, LeBron James simply drove right to the rim for a basket without the 7-foot-2 shot blocker standing in his way. With no Hibbert and no time to do anything else, James went right to the basket again on the last play, making a layup just before time expired for a 103-102 overtime victory. Vogel would later say that next time, Hibbert would probably be on the floor in that situation.
Mike Woodson, New York, Eastern Conference semifinals, Game 4. The Knicks won 54 games and the Atlantic Division title on the strength of a smaller lineup that utilized two point guards and Carmelo Anthony as the power forward. Not only did he scrap it with his team trailing 2-1, he practically forgot all about guard Pablo Prigioni, who played only 3 1/2 minutes off the bench after helping the Knicks go 16-2 following his move into the starting lineup with 18 games left in the regular season. The big lineup didn't help with rebounding, the Knicks losing the battle on the boards 54-36 in a 93-82 loss that left them one defeat from eventual elimination.
Mark Jackson, Golden State, Western Conference semifinals, Game 1. Jackson played star guard Stephen Curry, who has been plagued by ankle injuries, 58 minutes in the opener against San Antonio. Curry finished with 44 points and 11 assists in a 129-127 double-overtime loss, and the workload may have contributed to his struggles the rest of the series. Curry was limited to just 18.2 points per game and 36 percent shooting in the final five games.
Vogel, Indiana, Eastern Conference semifinals, Game 2. The Pacers were 15 minutes from a 2-0 lead in New York before a curious timeout and substitution completely changed the momentum. They had just taken a 64-62 lead on the strength of a 10-4 run when Vogel called time, removing Hibbert during the break. Carmelo Anthony drove to the open lane for baskets on the next two possessions, kicking off a 30-2 run as the Knicks went on to a 105-79 victory.
Vinny Del Negro, Los Angeles Clippers, Western Conference first round, Game 6. Del Negro played Jamal Crawford, runner-up for the Sixth Man of the Year award, just 12 1/2 minutes, about 18 below his average, in a 118-105 loss to Memphis that wrapped up the series. Crawford had missed his first five shots, but he's one of the league's streakiest shooters and capable of rebounding with five straight makes. Instead, Del Negro went with some infrequently used combinations in what turned out to be his final game as Clippers coach.