I need to put this disclaimer at the top: The referees did not cost Miami Game 5. It was more than one play: Goran Dragic shooting 5-of-15, Luol Deng shooting 4-of-12, the bench surrendering the start of a 15-5 Hornets run in the middle of the fourth that gave Charlotte the lead, or a lack of a key box out, and we could go on. And if you want, we can find bad calls the other way as well.
That said, I disagree with the league on this one.
The NBA’s referee report on the final two minutes of Charlotte beating Miami in Game 5 has come out and said Dwyane Wade was not fouled on his shot in the paint with five seconds to go. On Cody Zeller the league said:
Zeller (CHA) comes towards Wade (MIA) from across the restricted area, planting his foot and jumping vertically to defend Wade’s shot. Zeller absorbs contact when it occurs and, while his arms are not completely vertical, multiple angles confirm they do not make contact with Wade. Therefore, Zeller maintains a legal guarding position as he attempts to defend the shot.
This is where I think the league is wrong — Zeller did not jump vertically, he aggressively came across the lane and leaped forward making contact with Wade. I’m not alone here, this is from former NBA head of officials Stu Jackson.
As for Courtney Lee‘s contact with Wade on the same shot, here is the league’s response:
Lee (CHA) makes contact with the ball during Wade’s (MIA) upward shooting motion, which makes his subsequent, minor arm contact with Wade incidental. Lee then makes contact with Wade’s arm again at about 00:04.9, however, Wade has already lost possession of the ball.
The point is moot. Even if the league office had admitted the call was wrong, nothing would have changed the outcome.
If the Heat want to win Game 6 on the road they can’t count on a call at the end of the game, they need to get all the things right earlier in the game that made it close in the first place.