Almost all of the talk in the aftermath of the Golden State Warriors 104-100 victory over the Houston Rockets in Game 1 was centered around the referees. Neither side was happy with how the game was officiated - the Rockets for the lack of “landing space” calls, and the Warriors for the lack of freedom of movement calls.
The biggest point of contention came with about 10 seconds remaining in the contest. The Rockets, down 3, had just stolen the ball from Kevin Durant, and had a chance to tie the game. James Harden danced around the three-point line, and pulled the trigger an a three.
Harden missed the shot, and he and Draymond Green collided. No foul was called, and the Rockets were furious.
Watch where James Harden releases the shot from and watch where Draymond Green makes the contact. Harden kicked his legs wayyyyy out. That’s a good non-call pic.twitter.com/vaOWHCflCk— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) April 28, 2019
According to the NBA’s Last 2 Minute Report, the non-call on Green was correct. Here is the official explanation from the league:
Harden (HOU) draws Green (GSW) into the air during his shot attempt. Green jumps in front of Harden and would have missed him if Harden hadn’t extended his legs.
After the game, Harden said he wanted a “fair chance,” to which Green responded that many of Harden’s threes should be offensive fouls. To that point, the league also clarified that this particular play was not an offensive foul:
Harden (HOU) steps forward as Green (GSW) retreats, and releases the contact with his off-arm without going through his space.
In other words, the full non-call was the correct call.
That said, the Warriors were the beneficiary of some late officiating. In the aftermath of Harden’s miss, Houston tracked down the offensive rebound, but lost the ball. Ultimately, Eric Gordon was whistled for being out of bounds.
Prior to that whistle, however, the league noted that Steph Curry should have been called for contact with Gordon on the loose ball:
LAR shows Curry (GSW) makes contact with Gordon’s (HOU) arm, affecting his ability to secure the ball.
Furthermore, on Curry’s tremendous defensive stand against Harden with just under 1:30 remaining, in which Harden ended up out of bounds, the league believes Curry should have been whistled for his sixth foul:
RAR shows that Curry (GSW) is moving laterally into Harden’s (HOU) path and that the contact causes Harden to go out of bounds.
Klay Thompson also got away with a travelling violation, though he immediately missed a shot and the Rockets secured the rebound, so it didn’t have any impact on the game.
Ultimately the Warriors benefited from the late-game officiating, but the most hotly-debated play was called correctly. Furthermore, these late-game ticky-tack fouls that were missed on Curry are very rarely called in the final minutes of playoff games, so while they may technically be fouls, players know to adapt to late-game situations.
Also, the report is obviously only for the final two minutes, and it’s safe to say there were plenty of missed calls on both sides in the 46 minutes that preceded it.
On to Game 2.