And that's the thing that bothers me about this series: No team depends on the refs quite like the Heat. When the refs are calling all the bumps on Shaq and protecting Wade on every drive, they're unstoppable. When they're calling everything fairly, they're eminently beatable. If they're not getting any calls, they're just about hopeless. I could see the refs swinging two games in Miami's favor during this series, possibly three. In fact, I'm already depressed about it and the series hasn't even started yet. [emphasis added]Well, after watching the refs hand the game over to Miami but putting Dwyane W. - after an out of control drive against three players resulted in a predictably lame shot that missed - at the free throw line with 1.9 seconds left in a one point game I would have to agree with ESPN's Simmons: the NBA refs have been swinging games to Miami.
The worst of it is that Dwyane was not fouled - as replays clearly showed.
I say the above not being a fan of either team, but a fan of basketball. What we are seeing is no longer basketball - it has become choreographed, scripted, ridiculous. Room is still left for the players to play, but not all the way and not all the time. For example, not only did Dwyane get to decide the game at the FT line, but his FT attempts equalled the entire Dallas team. Not surprisingly Dwyane made more FTs this game than any other player in the entire 50 year history of the NBA Finals.
The refs swing games in subtle and not so subtle ways. For example, Dirk Nowitzki is punished by the opposition every time he touches the ball - actually before he touches the ball. Dirk is 'bodied-up' in the parlance - full body contact to push him and keep him off balance. This is routine - as is the lack of a call. Meanwhile, contrast that with the treatment of Dwyane - where merely a poor shot is oftentimes enough to warrent a whistle as in the case of the final shot of the game. I could go on, but why bother?
It is time for the people who value the sport to speak up. Wait for the sportswriters to do so and you will have a long wait. They know what side their bread is buttered on.
People will say 'but Dallas could have won if...' but isn't the point that both teams should have equal chances? You can play the same game saying 'Miami should have one if...' but they got and extra chance. That is why it is not fair. That is why the NBA and their refs and the favoritism that is rife is destroying any belief in spontaneity as opposed to scripted endings. One team should not have to win by four of more points - it should be fair.
Photo of 'foul' being called
Video of 'foul' - notice how quickly the ref signals for the foul, before Nowitzki even has an opportunity to push, which in any case he does not.
Another video showing the entire sequence including Dwyane Wade jumping in the air in the frontcourt, catching the ball and landing in the backcourt, then using his left forearm to knock Jason Terry (the Maverick with the high socks) out of bounds right in front of the ref before his out of control drive to the hoop.