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Explaining 10 Questionable Calls from the Heat Game

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During the close game against the Heat last night, we saw a lot of questionable and, in some cases, confusing calls. So let's look at some of these calls and see if they were right or wrong.

I will be referencing the Official NBA Rulebook for the 2011-2012 Season.

Play 1) Let's break it down starting from 5:00 left in the final quarter. Right off the bat, we have our first questionable call. Wade drives to the basket on a fast break and misses. Well after the play, the referee calls a foul. There's no rule for this, it's just a frustrating call. It doesn't matter whether the play was a foul or not (and, upon replay it clearly wasn't), the ref should call the foul when it happens, not after the shot missed.

Play 2) On Miami's next possession, we see LeBron travel, and get rewarded with free throws. This happens every time he touches the ball, and the refs have overlooked it his whole career. Not much to analyze here. Let's skip the rest of the missed travels.

Play 3) With exactly two minutes remaining, Blake gets his 5th foul on a loose ball play. Again, it's a late whistle, which is why Griffin gets so angry afterwards. On this play, the replay revealed that it was the right call. Blake clearly comes over Bosh's back to swipe the ball away.

Play 4) With only 27 seconds left, and the Clippers down by 1, Blake Griffin kicks the ball out to Chauncey Billups, who misses the three but is fouled by LeBron James. Some citizens mentioned that James hit Billups well after the foul, so it should be a two shot foul, not a three shot. The reason that Billups is awarded with three shots is because he is still in the act of shooting. Chauncey gets good elevation on his jumper, and he is still in the air when LeBron makes contact. It is by this rule that most four-point plays occur.

Play 5) When the Heat get the ball back, Wade is dribbling the ball on the wing. When he drives, the ball goes out of bounds off of Billups' shoe. The referees rule that it is Clipper ball, but after video review change the call. Ultimately it is disappointing, but it's the right call.

Play 6) Just 5 seconds later, LeBron is shooting his second free throw. He misses, but Wade saves the ball off of DeAndre Jordan to retain possession. This play was one of the more controversial calls in the game, but the refs again got it right. Here is why: a player is considered inbounds until he touches the floor out of bounds. Wade clearly leaps from inbounds and throws the ball off of Jordan, who is considered out of bounds because he has stepped outside the court. Some have claimed that the ball hit the baseline before bouncing to Wade, but there is no camera angle that I have seen to prove that. However, I believe that the Heat would have been awarded the ball anyways, because Griffin had touched it last. Did Blake get fouled? Yes, but that's not reviewable.

Play 7) After inbounding the ball following Wade's save, LeBron drives again, and draws another foul. Again the refs miss a travel. After LeBron picks up the basketball, he plants both his feet, right, then left. After planting his left foot, James drags his right, making his left foot his 'pivot foot'. Up to this point, there is no violation. However, after dragging his right, James plants it, and switches his pivot foot, rotating around while moving his left foot to draw the foul. It is illegal to switch your pivot foot, and when I watched it the baseline replay I could clearly see the violation.

Let's move to overtime.

Play 8) At the 4:08 mark, Billups drives toward the baseline and is met by Haslem. Even though Chauncey passed the ball before colliding with Haslem, it is still a charging foul because Haslem meets the following criteria: outside of the restricted area, feet set with no leaning, takes the blow to the chest. This call is similar to when a player releases the ball on a layup before running into the defender. The play is still called a charge.

Play 9) Now here is the big play: the DeAndre Jordan block on Chris Bosh with 45 seconds remaining. Despite the argument put up by the Heat, this play is clearly and indisputably a block and not a goaltend. From the first replay angle, it appears that the ball is on its way down, making it a goaltend. But, from the original camera angle the shot is clearly headed for the backboard. This is a fairly complicated rule, so let's break it down a little further.

  • On a regular field goal attempt, a player shall not touch any ball within the playing area that is on its downward flight with an opportunity to score.
  • On a bank field goal attempt, a player shall not touch any ball within the playing area that has already made contact with the backboard and is above rim level, whether the ball is on its upwards or downwards flight.

Because the shot is a bank attempt by Bosh, it is legal to block it any time before the ball hits the backboard, with no regard to the ball's angle of flight. Therefore, because Jordan made contact with the ball before it hit the backboard, it is a good and legal blocked shot.

Play 10) After Mario Chalmers misses a three pointer with under 20 seconds remaining, Blake Griffin quickly chases down the rebound, and, not wanting to shoot free throws, hands the ball off to Chauncey Billups. While Blake is giving the ball to Billups, Shane Battier tries to foul Griffin. An argument ensues where Battier is trying to convince the referee that Griffin should be shooting free throws. However, this is a pointless argument. Since the Heat had not committed 4 fouls in overtime, or 2 fouls in the final 2 minutes of overtime, Miami had a foul to give, which results in a sideline inbound for the Clippers, no matter whether Battier fouled Griffin or Billups.

Hopefully this clears up some of your questions. If any of these explanations require further support, or any citizens have other questions regarding rules and calls, please leave them in the comments.