Thunder: Billy Donovan suggests adjustment to coach's challenge rules
Thunder coach Billy Donovan decided the reward outweighed the risk as he challenged an out of bounds call Wednesday. Just over 30 seconds remained in the third quarter of what would become a 107-100 loss to the Pacers.
“The reason I did it is, one, I thought we could win,” Donovan said after practice Thursday. “The other part too is that they were going on a run. It was coming towards the end of the quarter. It would take the possession away from them, and it would give us the two for one. There was maybe 34 seconds to go on the clock, so we would have had an opportunity for a two for one.”
The calculation was sound, but it didn’t pan out how Donovan had hoped. Without conclusive evidence to overturn the call – it was such a quick play that the replay on the arena's video board was blurry – Donovan’s challenge was unsuccessful. The officials awarded Indiana the ball, and the Pacers scored two unanswered baskets before the end of the period. They took a 79-78 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“When you can try to save some points or take points off the board, I think those are important ones,” Donovan said. “For us, I thought getting two extra possessions or an extra possession to close the quarter was important. I thought we had a really, really good chance.”
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For Donovan, that calculation isn’t getting any easier. Wednesday’s coach’s challenge was Donovan’s fifth of the season. Two of those have been successful. That’s about on par with the league average. About a quarter of the way through the one-year trial of the coach's challenge, 44 percent of challenged calls have been overturned, per the NBA.
Donovan’s first successful challenge was of a goal tending call. Fifty-seven percent of goal tending challenges have been successful. The second came on an out of bounds call, which coaches have had the most success overturning (68 percent).
“The thing with the challenge, which to me would be a little bit better, would be if you challenge and you’re successful, you keep your challenge,” Donovan said. “Because what ends up happening is you don’t know when to use it. There’s no time to use it because you can look back the next day and go through every play and say, ‘Okay that should have been a time that I used the challenge. But I used it over here.’ You can’t tell.”
Each team has one challenge per game, no matter the outcome of that challenge. In response, coaches have been saving their challenges for late in games. Almost half (49 percent) of challenges have occurred in the fourth quarter, compared to just 7 percent in the first.