Amir Johnson’s been known to pick up fouls at a fairly quick rate, every 5.49 minutes to be exact. He picked up three fouls in a span of 1:57 against Cleveland, one of those fouls was a little interesting and is a subject of this BID segment.
Andrea Bargnani is guarding Antawn Jamison and Amir Johnson is checking Anderson Varejao. You can see by looking at Bargnani that he’s supposed to also worry about closing out LeBron if he beats Turkoglu off the bounce, a high probability event. The Raptors are expecting LeBron to put it on the floor and have the help ready. While Bargnani has two things to worry about (LeBron’s drive and his own man), Johnson is committed to Varejao at this point.
One of the things Jack Armstrong talked about in the game was that if Antawn Jamison simply cuts without the ball in Cleveland, he’ll be a successful acquisition. Bargnani’s attention is drawn more and more towards LeBron, Jamison will take advantage of this and make a cut from the wing area right down the heart of the paint. There are two possible rotation options – Amir Johnson leaving Varejao and picking up Jamison (in which case Weems must make the rotation to Varejao), or Bargnani reacting quickly to his man’s cut and picking him up thus sparing the rotation sequences from being started.
Bargnani is caught in no-man’s land because of LeBron’s quick read of the defense and Johnson is forced to contest Jamison’s shot. Johnson’s defense so far is good, he hasn’t fouled Jamison and you can see that Jamison is about to lean into him to draw contact. If Johnson simply holds his ground and keeps his arms straight without leaving his feet, he’ll have done his job in forcing Jamison into a tough contested shot.
Alas, look at Johnson’s feet. Even though his arms are in perfect position (straight up, not leaning downwards), his feet have left the ground and any official watching the play will give the benefit of the doubt to the offensive player.
What do you think should’ve happened? Should we expect Bargnani to recover quickly and catch-up to Jamison even though he was the help man? Are we asking too much of Amir Johnson to not foul a great player like Jamison? Should the Raptors have shown help and allow LeBron to dissect the offense so easily? Should the help have come from elsewhere and not a poor help defender like Bargnani? Is there anything we could’ve done differently or did LeBron and Jamison just make a great play? Interesting questions that popup in even the simplest of basketball plays.