One of the most dramatic moments of the NBA playoffs came in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, when Deandre Ayton made a game-winning dunk, exploiting a little-known rule that a player cannot commit goaltending on an inbounds pass.
Clippers fans obviously lamented the play the second it happened, but even neutral observers had a hard time appreciating the theatrics because of what preceded that dunk. The last 90 seconds of that game took 33 minutes of real time because of five replay reviews, two of which were to determine possession on out-of-bounds plays.
Perhaps as a result of that finish, the Board of Governors is considering eliminating automatic reviews on those plays in the final two minutes, requiring a coach’s challenge to reverse the decision.
Sources: The NBA Board of Governors will vote this month to approve the Coach’s Challenge being the lone method to review out-of-bounds calls with under two minutes left in games, meaning out-of-bounds plays will no longer be automatically triggered for officials.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 13, 2021
This might have shaved roughly 25 minutes of review time off the end of Suns-Clips Game 2. https://t.co/ixAfu8xUl7— Andrew Greif (@AndrewGreif) September 13, 2021
This is tremendous news.
First of all, these reviews often fly against the spirit of the play. If a player knocks the ball out of the opponent’s hands, it should go back to the offensive player unless it touches another part of his body. But on replay, it can be shown that the ball grazed the offensive player’s fingers, and he loses possession, an outcome that doesn’t happen in the first 46 minutes absent a challenge.
Secondly, the reviews take so much time. The technology that referees have is too good, and they parse through an unending number of angles to reach the most accurate conclusion, but that disrupts the flow of the game. No one wants stoppages to dominate the final two minutes of a high-stakes playoff bout — they want to see the two teams play basketball.
These stoppages also give teams additional timeouts while the officials go through the replays. The NBA took away timeouts to improve the pace of the game, but reviews have inadvertently added timeouts back.
Presumably, some calls will be missed without replay. No referee is perfect, and reviews can improve accuracy. But the officials are generally very good, and given that replay can ruin the integrity of some calls, this feels like an obvious win for the league’s product. Fans are going to complain about referees anyway — at least give them and the players some of their time back in the process.
More news for Tuesday:
- In addition to the replay rules, the NBA is also considering (once again) a midseason tournament.
- Law Murray got inside perspective on how the NBA schedule comes together.
- Check out these athletes on the red carpet of the Met Gala. My personal favorite is former Clipper Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
- The newest G League team, the Mexico City Capitanes, will play their home games in Texas this season due to Covid travel restrictions.
- Fortunately, the Toronto Raptors are assured of playing their home games in Canada.
- Mike Schmitz highlighted seven rookies who could outperform their draft slot. See which Clipper made the list.
- Kawhi Leonard was at New York Fashion Week.