Some of these bench guys are going to have to play minutes in the playoffs when the pressure is on. By leaving them in like he did McHale gets to see how they hold up in tough situations. Yes, there was a modicum of risk, but when you look at the team on the other side of the court you realise it was lower than you otherwise might think. If there was one team I would choose to pull this kind of stunt against, I would choose Orlando (with apologies to Charlotte). All of their players with experience are injured - they are not a group with the poise or at this point the skill level to effect such a comeback with any high probability.
I'm also not sure how much of a morale dampener this would have been. Missing their top two scorers, it is forgiveable (if rather lax) to drop a game like this. In fact, the main damage it would have done would have been to lower the fans' (and perhaps the players') confidence in McHale further.
So personally, it's a risk I don't mind McHale taking - it was his own reputation at stake more than anything else. He saw a rare opportunity to play his bench bigger minutes than usual and seized it. I can understand why that's not a trade off some fans would like him to take, but it works for me.
This. Thank you for that response ST. That was exactly the other side of the coin that I was considering. It wasn't an unreasonable risk for him to take, and it worked out, but I do think it was a risk, and one I personally disagreed with. How much weight we put on ORL being able to succeed and how much we think the team itself would have suffered in lack of confidence (mind you, this wasn't just a loss w/o their 2 starters, it is a game that was effectively won then lost away -- this degrades the starters' confidence in their bench players and their coach, and of course, don't forget how much confidence the bench itself loses) differs, but reasonably so. All this so close to the post-season. If it were halfway through the season, I'd care much less and would have probably come out differently.
And while ORL does suck and mounting a comeback was quite improbable, they did get on quite a run to get within 5...so it isn't asking the probability of that upset occurring vs. the ORL team, but rather, the probability of that upset occurring at that point in time (which, while still not high, is higher than in the former scenario).