LeBron James tweets that Pacers should’ve fouled up 3 in Game 1 vs. Celtics: ‘Every single time’

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LeBron James knows what to do in the game’s final moments.

Whether he’s on offense or defense, he has a plan for his team. He’s played in countless close games in both the regular season and playoffs, so he’s prepared when these moments arise.

The Lakers forward is no longer playing in the 2024 NBA Playoffs, but he’s watching closely from home. He disagreed with how the Pacers played defense in the final seconds of regulation in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Celtics went on to win Game 1
 thanks to late-game heroics from Jaylen Brown. James’s plan would have kept Brown from tying the game.

Here’s what the future Hall of Famer said about the Pacers’ defense at the end of regulation in Game 1.

MORE: Celtics survive Pacers in Game 1 overtime clash

LeBron James tweets Pacers should’ve fouled up 3

It’s become common practice for teams to foul the opponent when leading by three points late in the game. This prevents the trailing team from getting an opportunity to tie the game.

The Pacers found themselves up 117-114 with 8.1 seconds left, with the Celtics inbounding the ball on the baseline. Fouling immediately wouldn’t allow Boston the chance at tying the game, thus creating a free throw battle in the final seconds.

Instead, Indiana didn’t foul, and Brown nailed the game-tying shot with 6.0 seconds left. It eventually sent the game into overtime.

James also referenced his recent “Mind the Game” podcast with JJ Redick that featured the two discussing how to traverse a three-point lead at the end of a game.

It’s clear what James would have done if he was on the court, but it’s of course easier said than done.

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MORE: Tyrese Haliburton’s 3-pointers not enough to shock Celtics in Game 1

Why didn’t Indiana foul at the end of Game 1?

It’s easy to say Indiana should have fouled Brown while up three points, but this narrative would be different had he missed the fadeaway corner 3-ball.

That didn’t happen, though. The Pacers didn’t foul and left the fate in Brown’s hands, but why? Well, the Pacers didn’t have an opportunity to foul.

T.J. McConnell and Pascal Siakam didn’t switch on Derrick White’s screen, thus giving Brown a clean chance to catch the ball in the corner behind the 3-point line.

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Siakam did recover, but Brown was almost immediately in the shooting motion. Had Siakam reached in at all, Brown would have started his upward motion and drawn a three-shot foul — a cardinal sin at the end of games.

It’s common for NBA players to do this, and it’s a way veterans can bully rookies on defense. Siakam knows better, so he kept his hands out of the cookie jar, not allowing Brown to get three free looks at the basket.

If Brown dribbles the ball at all, it would have given Siakam an opportunity to foul and force Brown to shoot two free throws. 

Alas, that didn’t happen, and the rest is history. Indianapolis, its fans, and, apparently, LeBron James, will second-guess this decision for the rest of the series, but all that matters now is how the Pacers respond in Game 2.

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