The Nuggets had possession, trailing by a point, when they called a timeout with 24 seconds left Wednesday night. The situation sparked a small debate amongst Cavs coaches.
The Nuggets could've ran the clock all the way down and taken the game's last shot, but assistant coach Joe Prunty told Byron Scott he had a feeling the Nuggets were going to go early in the clock. Scott thought they'd run some clock and go for the win with precious few seconds left.
Prunty was right, Scott was happy to be wrong. The Nuggets' decision to go early ultimately won the game for the Cavs.
Nene's basket over Tristan Thompson put the Cavs down a point, but left them with 15 seconds to operate. Instead of taking the ball at half court, Scott wanted Kyrie Irving to drive the length of the floor. There was plenty of time and Irving had been smothered by opponents in similar situations, when the Cavs needed a 3-pointer to force overtime against both Boston and Washington. Irving never touched the ball on the final shot in those games, so Scott made sure he was going to get the ball Wednesday.
"To me it's a no-brainer," Scott said. "You take it full court and open up the court."
The play was a simple 1-4 flat, Scott said, joking that it was sort of like "give him the ball and get the hell out of his way." But actually, the idea was for Irving to get the ball and bring it up the floor and the other four guys to spread the floor.
Irving was going to attack the rim, and if a big jumped out to help, Scott circled on his board the four places where Irving's teammates would be standing. As soon as Irving saw the big committing to him, Irving knew the spot on the floor where he should make the pass. Instead, no one jumped out and Irving sailed all the way to the basket for his fourth driving layup in the game's final three minutes.
"I see it in his eyes," Daniel Gibson said Thursday. "It's like a confidence to where it doesn't matter about the moment."
Gibson said after one of his fourth-quarter layups, Irving stomped away shouting "Fourth quarter! This is my time! This is my time!"
"If he gets everybody else to feeling the same way, you can feel it in his eyes when that time comes," Gibson said. "He relishes that moment."