In the first quarter of the Timberwolves game that I'm watching right now Jerryd Bayless intentionally fouled with 10 seconds left on the clock. Mike Barrett interjected that the Blazers were using the "foul to give" as he usually does. In the subsequent possession the Wolves set up their offense, took a good shot (missed) and got a put-back by Jefferson as time expired.
Using the "foul to give" is pretty much conventional wisdom in basketball circles. I see reasons to doubt its effectiveness, though.
There are a few reasons I can think of in favor of employing this strategy.
- Taking time off of their possession to force them to reset the offense and thus have less time to execute
- Disrupting their offensive flow
- Getting a preview of what they are trying to do and being able to adjust
However, there are some serious risks that I think outweigh the positives.
- The offensive team is expecting you to do it, and thus is prepared (often starting their quarter-ending possessions early in anticipation of the foul). This negates all three of the positives I listed above.
- It adds a personal foul to the defensive player's total. Not a good idea, especially if the player is Brandon Roy or another key player.
- You run the risk of the offensive player putting up the shot and it being called a shooting foul.
- You run the risk of another (non-shooting) foul being called after the "foul to give" and awarding the other team free throws they otherwise wouldn't have had. No safety margin.
Being the contrary type that I am, I'd be interested to see the "foul to give" strategy's track record. In any event, I'd like to know if I'm the only one who is skeptical of this strategy. Small things like this can make the difference in a close game. What do you think? Do you see any other pros or cons to the strategy?