Usually when the league admits a referee’s error it wouldn’t have really changed anything. This one could impact whether or not the Dallas Mavericks make the playoffs in the West.
The league admitted Wednesday that Jermaine O’Neal’s blocked shot on Monta Ellis with 16 seconds left in overtime of a tie game was in fact a goaltend (you can see the play at the start of the video above, which goes on to show Stephen Curry’s game winner).
“Upon review at the league office, we have found that a shot taken by Dallas’ Monta Ellis with 16.0 seconds remaining in overtime was on the way down when initially contacted and ruled a block by Golden State’s Jermaine O’Neal, and should have been ruled a goaltend. The exact trajectory of the ball when touched was impossible to ascertain with the naked eye, and the play was not reviewable,” Rod Thorn, NBA President, Basketball Operations, said in a released statement.
That admission and $4 will buy Mark Cuban a latte at Starbucks. It doesn’t help their playoff drive.
The Mavericks still lose the game and with that loss fell to the ninth seed in the West, half a game back of Memphis and Phoenix for the final playoff slots in the West. If the Mavericks finish one game out of the playoffs (a real possibility) they can point back to this game and this call. We don’t know how things would have played out differently if that was called a goaltend, maybe Curry still hits a shot to tie it and the Warriors win in double OT (or maybe he hits a three), but the Mavericks would have had a lead with :12 seconds left.
This admission is part of Adam Silver’s push for transparency on officiating as commissioner, which also has included releasing some of the memos about officiating sent to teams.
I’ll admit that watching it live last night and in replay a few times I thought it was a good no call. If the league office slowed it down and says it was a goaltend I’ll grant them that, but it would have been a hard call to make in real time.