Your team is down by one. The clock ticks down, approaching the final buzzer. Ten seconds. Nine seconds. Eight seconds. There's time for one final shot. If it goes in, the buzzer-beater will spark a wild celebration. If it doesn't, your team will suffer a heart-breaking defeat.
So who takes the all-important shot?
The Decision: One of the toughest decisions a coach has to make is who gets to take the final shot of the game. Is it the high-scoring star forward? Or is the super-star just a decoy? How about the sharpshooter coming off the bench with the ability to knock down 3-pointers? Maybe get the ball down to the center for the chance at a game-winning layup? All of these thoughts come into play when a coach is figuring out which player to use for the final shot.
Pressure: The final shot of a close game is far more difficult than any other shot during the game. Making the shot can mean the difference between winning and losing. If the game is tied, the shot can mean the difference between going home a winner and having to play a grueling overtime period. The entire game can rest in the hands of the player assigned to take the last shot.
Clutch Players: In the NBA, several players have earned the reputation as clutch shooters. Usually, the best player on the team gets to take the big shots. Sometimes these players are used as decoys to draw defenders away from another player, but more often than not the star is going to take the last shot. This week, Lakers star Kobe Bryant missed a potential game-winning shot in a tie game against the Milwaukee Bucks. In overtime, he had another shot and made it. Great players like Bryant learn from their mistakes and know how to handle the pressure. LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Vince Carter of the Orlando Magic are also known as players with the ability to hit a big shot.
The ability to make a last-second shot can be the different between a good player and a great player. It's about stepping up when the game is on the line and helping your teammates when they need you the most.
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