As the Celtics were in the process of making another furious last-minute comeback Monday night, they played some great defense after a made basket and tipped the ball out of bounds in the backcourt. The Timberwolves had just four seconds left (out of the eight allotted) to move the ball past the halfcourt line. Unfortunately, Boston lost the opportunity to force a turnover when Minnesota called a timeout that allowed them to advance the ball and inbound from the frontcourt (here's a video clip of the play on NBA.com).
Why should a team's defensive efforts go to waste just because the other squad calls timeout?
Something similar occurred two weeks ago during another Celtics nail-biter in Milwaukee. With one second left, Greg Monroe scored to put the Bucks up by two. You would think the game should be over, except that the Celtics had a timeout that allowed them to advance the ball. Because of this, they were able to attempt an easy pass to Kelly Olynyk underneath the basket. Olynyk got fouled and made two free throws to tie the score.
At this point you might expect it to go to overtime, but the Bucks had a timeout left as well (still with one second on the clock). They advanced the ball by virtue of that timeout, and were able to draw a foul themselves on the other end with 0.6 seconds to go. After Milwaukee hit one free throw, the Celtics were now out of timeouts and obviously weren't able to do anything in the final 0.6 seconds (here's the full rundown of that fourth quarter with links to click on the videos of each play).
But my question is, shouldn't that have been the case all along? The game shifted twice in literally the last second just because both teams were able to advance the ball with timeouts. Why does that rule exist? What's the point? Wouldn't it be a lot more fair for everybody if the ball always just stayed where it was? Is there something I'm missing here? Why did they ever create this rule in the first place?
When the other team scores to go ahead with just a second or two left, you should have to pull off something miraculous like the famous Duke/Christian Laettner play in order to win--not just some junk like we saw twice in one second in Milwaukee.