Today, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors dueled at Oracle Arena for a NBA Finals rematch. Both sides clearly downplayed the importance of the game, but make no mistake, this was the most important game of the first half of the 2017-2018 NBA season. Although Stephen Curry and Isaiah Thomas were absent from their respective lineups, this match-up was interesting all the way down to the final seconds. The Warriors held on and defeated the Cavaliers 99-92. Though, the entire game was controversial from the officiating to the standard NBA rules.
The Cleveland Cavaliers may have lost the game, but they weren’t given a fair shot at competing during the final stretch. This game shows how flawed the NBA is in terms of how games are supposed to be played. This game may seem like an ordinary competitive match-up for the two teams, but the NBA needs to change a few things to make games run smoothly and fairly. Otherwise, these controversial games can drag on where it matters most, which is the NBA Playoffs. Here are a few things that the NBA needs to change immediately to ensure that the game is fair for everyone, players and fans.
The replay rule has to go
During the final minutes of the Warriors and Cavaliers game, the referees paused the action to review a questionable block that was was carried out by Kevin Durant on LeBron James. This allowed the Warriors to gain a crucial timeout to catch their breath and go over a game plan with a few seconds left. Earlier in the game, the Warriors used most of their timeouts and had only two left in the second half. With a shortage of timeouts available, the Warriors would have been in serious trouble for strategic issues. After all, timeouts down the final stretch are the most important. Since the referees reviewed the block, the Warriors got a free one. What’s up with that?
Granted, NBA teams have been taking advantage of this flaw in the NBA’s officiating protocol. Usually, referees tend to review more calls in the final two minutes to make the game fair and transparent. Unfortunately, teams use this chance to catch their breath and over game strategies as if the stoppage was timeout. This needs to stop, not because the Cavaliers lost the game, but because this practice is unfair. The workaround implies that teams get more timeouts that what is allotted, and disrupts the balance of the game. As you can see for yourself, the Cavaliers lost an important game because of this cheap NBA flaw.
We need a clear interpretation of what fouls are
Let’s face it; the NBA referees have a very tough job. They have to officiate entire NBA games, following a precise model of how the game should be played. When calls aren’t made, they are blamed. When calls are made, they are still blamed. In fact, the referees are the most scrutinized personnel that exists in pro sports. In other words, it’s so easy to blame the refs. NBA players and coaches do it on the regular basis, but they seem to be right. The officiating in some NBA is just outright atrocious. Take for example the last minutes of the Warriors and Cavaliers game. LeBron James was clearly fouled three times in the final two minutes. Normally, LeBron James has a history of whining to the referees and getting more calls than he deserves, but these fouls were no-brainers.
He got hit on every play, and he probably knew that as well. In another game, LeBron James would have easily gotten to the line and gave his team the chance to win. Though in this game, he was ignored. So, what’s the problem? This clearly isn’t some “the ref didn’t see it” issue. They just didn’t agree that LeBron got fouled. So, are some calls deemed a foul in one game and not in another? If so, what is classified as a foul. In this case, LeBron James got fouled and it cost him the game. Something definitely has to change moving forward.
The officiating needs to get better
The Warriors and Cavaliers Christmas day game was a mess. On both sides, the officiating was inconsistent and spotty, and it ended up causing the Cavaliers to lose the game. However, the most blatant mistake by the officials happened with technical fouls. Kevin Durant was issued a technical foul earlier in the game because he argued with a referee about a call, something that has become common of him this season. Further into the game, Calderon and Durant got into an argument, and Calderon was whistled with a technical foul. This drew the anger of the entire Cavaliers team because they believed Durant should have been assessed a technical foul as well. He should have, by the way. Even Jeff Van Gundy agreed that that Durant should have been ejected for instigating the altercation.
This double standard caused the Cavaliers to lose the game. If Durant would have gotten a second technical, he would have been ejected, and the Cavaliers would have won the game. Since he was allowed to stay in, the Cavaliers lost down the stretch. The NBA needs to address this issue, starting with how technical fouls should be given in the first place. If not, this can create unnecessary for the entire NBA.
Last minute replays need to become a consensus
There is nothing wrong with last minute reviews, but the way they are conducted needs to change. When LeBron James got fouled in the final minutes, there was no way that every official agreed that if wasn’t a foul. They probably went by a majority rules mandate. If so, this has got to change. The officials should only make decisions when they are 100% certain, not when they are just sure. If this was a Playoff game, the Cavaliers would have been given an unfair chance to compete against one of the best teams in the league. In this sense, all games are important, and the NBA needs to do a better job at making sure games run smoothly.
If not, more teams could get robbed in NBA games, much like how the Cleveland Cavaliers did on Christmas Day.