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Thursday, July 26, 2018

More on the "Elam Ending" in Basketball (Updated)

I watched my first basketball game (in The Basketball Tournament) using the Elam Ending, the new rules designed to eliminate late-game fouling by a trailing team seeking to come back (the game clock is shut-off at the 4:00 mark and the teams play until one team reaches +7 points of the winning team when the clock was shut off). In this game, A lead X 80-74 at the 4:00 mark, so the target score was 87. X came back thanks to some big three-pointers and some sloppy offense by A to tie the score at 86. A won the game on a free throw following a questionable foul call on what looked like a clean steal that was about to lead to a possible game-winning fast-break for X.

1) X's offense during the untimed period still seemed rushed, in a hurry to throw up threes and get back a lot of points at once. Even with the clock off, there is a sense that, with A at 83 points, there are only a few possessions left, so they have to score in larger bunches, if not necessarily early in the shot clock.

2) I had thought that one goal was that with no clock, each team could execute its "normal" offense down the stretch, but I did not see that from either team. As I said, X seemed in a hurry to score and to shoot 3's. A seemed to tense up, not knowing how  to play in this odd situation.

3) There still was an intentional foul. Leading 86-84, A intentionally fouled, giving X two free throws to tie the game, and give A the ball back with the chance to win, rather than risk a game-winning three. But this is equivalent to current practice of fouling up 3 in the closing seconds and a strategy I expected to survive.

Update: The Ringer considers NBA games with historically famous endings (including Michael Jordan's end-of-Bulls-career-game-winner) that would have been changed, while The Big Lead does the same with college games.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on July 26, 2018 at 11:40 PM in Howard Wasserman, Sports | Permalink


@Jr: I'm not sure why unequal game length is a problem (except for TV). Of course, I don't have a problem with the current rules.

In fact, I don't like end-of-half and end-of-game rule changes in football. If those rules address problems that are so important, why not have them for the whole game?

Posted by: HokieEngineer | Jul 28, 2018 2:45:12 PM

@HookieEngineer, playing without clock entirely would lead to excessive variance in game length. Some games would be short by today's standards and others very long.

Posted by: Jr | Jul 28, 2018 8:33:13 AM

If you're concerned about game clocked related shenanigans, why not just eliminate it entirely? (You can still keep the shot clock--the Dean Smith rule--in place). Have halftime when one team has reached 36 points and the two teams have had an equal number of possessions. Flip the possession arrow at the half and require the winner to win by a specified number of points.

I favor the game as it is now, but that's probably because I could make free throws.

Posted by: HokieEngineer | Jul 27, 2018 1:32:08 PM

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