Last night's NBA action saw 6 of 11 games decided by 5 points or less. Two of those games went to overtime. From an entertainment standpoint, there's no doubt overtime and close games have their thrills. But there's been a trend in the young season that, although good for drama, is bad for the game -- players are missing far too many free throws.
Look, they're called "free" for a reason. You're supposed to make them. Going less than 90% on any given day should not be an option. Yet teams are still missing. None of the 22 teams last night hit 90% of their free throws. The Spurs came the closest at 88%. It's just basic fundamentals; you work on free throws, as a basketball player, from the time you're a kid. But players ignore them to work on aspects that are outside the realm of their position. Centers work on their 3-point shooting. Point guards work on driving to the basket. But a center, for example, will lose far more games not being able to hit from the stripe than by shooting poorly the five or so times over a season they have the opportunity to shoot a 3. And misses come at critical times.
Last night, Jose Calderon and Tim Duncan (?!) missed free throws that could have decided/tie their games in the final seconds. The Spurs, as a result, had to go to overtime to beat the 1-4 Suns. The Sixers lost by two, because Calderon missed the free throws that could have tied the game. On Tuesday, LeBron James could have put the Cavs up by 3 with 6.1 seconds left if he made both of his free throws. He made only one, the Hawks tied the game and won in overtime. James went 5-for-11 that game. Those are not numbers superstars -- a group that includes James AND Duncan -- cannot produce.