Home > Dallas Mavericks, Good calls, Good no-calls, Miami Heat, Missed travels, Moving screen, Refs fall for a flop, Shooting foul, Technical foul, Ticky-tack fouls, Traveling > Dallas-Miami (NBA Finals Game 2) – Complete ref call analysis: missed travels still the big story

Dallas-Miami (NBA Finals Game 2) – Complete ref call analysis: missed travels still the big story

We have finally completed our exhaustive review of Game 2 of the NBA Finals between Dallas and Miami played Thursday night. At least 25 ref calls were incorrectly made or missed — Whew! It also took a little longer than normal since we’re using a new video hosting platform which takes more time to upload and process our videos compared to our previous hosting provider – YouTube.

These Finals games deserve the utmost scrutiny since so many people are watching them. But they are killers to review, especially considering all of the missed traveling violations from known offenders playing in these games.

Speaking of travels, we counted up the number of missed travels in the game, and they are the following:

Dwyane Wade – 5
Chris Bosh - 2
LeBron James - 1

Dirk Nowitzki – 3
Jose Barea - 1
Peja Stojakovic - 1

It’s interesting that after Game 1, in which James scored 24 points and at least 5 of his travels were missed, that he only had 1 traveling violation missed in Game 2 while “only” scoring 20 points, probably in deference to his teammate Wade, who was more of the aggressor.

Wade scored 36 points in Game 2, more than the 22 he scored in Game 1. As a result, his number of missed travels went up from 0 to 5. This continues to affirm our past research that the more a player scores in a game (an indicator of aggressiveness on offense), there’s a pretty strong correlation with the number of traveling violations the refs will miss along the way to scoring all those points.

It’s also interesting as Miami’s offense started to shut down in the 4th quarter as they lost their big lead settling for jump shots, their number of missed travels went down to zero for the quarter. It just goes to show that the more aggressive you are as a player, and the more you are able to sneak in an extra “baby step” to help you drive past your defender (which the rulebook doesn’t allow, BTW), the more the refs will reward you by not calling a travel.

It’s sad this is something players can exploit that most fans don’t even notice. But until the refs start calling more travels to clean up the game (and players will adjust to it, in our opinion), fans will continue to be in the dark about it. In the meantime, it will continue to be one of the keys to winning games if you’re inclined to use the refs’ blase attitude about calling travels against them.

In the last clip of the video, you’ll see that Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki traveled a couple of times on his game-winning shot. They weren’t very obvious at real speed, but if you slow it down like we did, the travels were there.

Like we continue to say, though, these travels are difficult to detect as they occur. But it can’t hurt if the refs were given more training to detect these violations. Kind of like police officers getting trained to decide in a split second if they need to fire their weapon in a potentially threatening situation. Just the premise that refs are more inclined to call a travel might make more players change some of their moves to be in compliance with the official rulebook, which could change the game for the better.

For what it’s worth, in between the two missed travels on Nowitzki’s game winner, he did have one of the most unique moves we’ve ever seen a player make while dribbling the basketball. We’ve broken that move down for you in the video.

Would there be much more parity in the NBA if the refs started calling more traveling violations on high-priced players who we know travel alot, like Wade, James, Carmelo Anthony, and Kobe Bryant (just to name a few)? Would there be more value placed on building teams with players who are more well-rounded than being forced to pay huge amounts of money for free agents who have mastered their ball handling skills to score going one-on-one, bending the rules in their favor, like using those little baby steps that help them past their defender more easily. Could the whole concept of needing at least two superstars (and needing to pay out the nose for it) to win a championship become a thing of the past?

But of course, the league could be mighty scared of moving away from the superstar model, although we think the stars would continue to shine in other ways. And there is the argument the pie (a.k.a. “revenue”) gets a lot bigger when you have more parity in a league.

Also in this game, referee Joe Crawford continued his penchant for calling ticky-tack fouls, calling at least 5 “touch” fouls that weren’t warranted, much more than the other refs by far.

Here is a breakdown of the calls in the video above:

1st Quarter:

  1. Ref Joe Crawford misses a travel by Miami’s Dwyane Wade that occurs right in front of him, but no call.
  2. The refs will miss a traveling violation on Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki
  3. Ref Ken Mauer incorrectly calls a foul on Miami’s Joel Anthony according to the NBA’s official play-by-play data, but it doesn’t appear Anthony fouled Dallas’ Tyson Chandler. Perhaps Miami’s Chris Bosh was worthy of receiving the foul, but there was no way Mauer could have seen Bosh’s contact since he was shielded from Bosh on the play.
  4. The refs will miss a moving screen on Miami’s Mike Bibby, but there is no call.
  5. The refs will miss a traveling violation on Miami’s Dwyane Wade.
  6. The refs will miss a traveling violation on Miami’s Chris Bosh.
  7. The refs will miss a traveling violation on Miami’s Dwyane Wade, which leads to a 3-pointer by Miami’s Mike Bibby.
  8. The refs will miss a traveling violation on Miami’s Dwyane Wade.
  9. The refs will miss a traveling violation on Dallas’ Peja Stojakovic.

2nd Quarter:

  1. Ref Joe Crawford will call a ticky-tack foul on Miami’s Udonis Haslem involving Dallas’ Jason Terry.
  2. The refs will miss a traveling violation (double-dribble) on Dallas’ Jose Barea.
  3. The refs will incorrectly call a technical foul on Miami’s Mike Miller after Miller lightly pushes Dallas’ Jose Barea off of him, who fell on top of him forcefully. If Miller deserved a technical, then Barea did, too, who only received a personal foul. This technical on Miller sent Dallas to the line for a technical foul free throw.
  4. The refs miss two traveling violations by Miami’s Chris Bosh, then a couple of seconds later miss a basket interference violation by Miami’s Dwyane Wade, who grabs the ball above the imaginary cylinder and dunks it.
  5. The refs will miss a traveling violation by Miami’s LeBron James.
  6. Ref Ken Mauer will make a no-call involving Dallas’ Tyson Chandler as Miami’s Dwyane Wade is driving to the basket for a score. A difficult call given the contact from Chandler is very light. Wade doesn’t help himself by not even looking up at the basket when he is putting up his shot, relying on the ref to make a call. If Wade had looked up, he might have received the call. Our opinion is that the ref made the correct no-call since a lot more contact than Chandler’s is rightfully allowed throughout every game, with no call.
  7. Ref Joe Crawford will call a ticky-tack foul on Dallas’ Jason Terry after a flop by Miami’s Mario Chalmers.
  8. Ref Joe Crawford will call a questionable foul on Dallas’ Tyson Chandler

3rd Quarter:

  1. The refs will miss a traveling violation on Miami’s Dwyane Wade, which helps him pump fake on Dallas’ Tyson Chandler, get him fouled, and send Wade to the line for 2 free throws.
  2. The refs will incorrectly call a technical foul on Dallas coach Rick Carlisle after Dirk Nowitzki incorrectly receives a personal foul violation after Miami’s LeBron James puts an elbow into his chest.
  3. The refs will miss calling a personal foul on Dallas’ Brian Cardinal after he makes contact with the face of Miami’s Mike Bibby, and leaves his hand on Bibby’s face for a prolonged amount of time.
  4. It appears that ref Joe Crawford will incorrectly call a foul on Dallas’ Jason Terry, who appeared to cleanly strip Miami’s Dwyane Wade of the ball, sending Wade to the free throw line.

4th Quarter:

  1. It appears that ref Ken Mauer made the correct call by assigning a traveling violation on Miami’s LeBron James after he gained possession of the ball.
  2. The refs miss a traveling violation on Dallas’ Dirk Nowtizki
  3. Ref Joe Crawford will incorrectly call a foul on Miami’s Udonis Haslem, who doesn’t appear to make any contact with Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki.
  4. The refs correctly make a no-call after Miami’s LeBron James claim he was hit when he missed a layup.
  5. Ref Ed Malloy will incorrectly call a foul on Dallas’ Tyson Chandler when it appeared that Miami’s LeBron James might have pushed off with his right forearm.
  6. The refs miss two different traveling violations on Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki.
  • Fennsk

    so, by my count, there were 5 more calls/no calls that favored Miami.  A Finals Heat crowd chanting “ref you suck” = irony

    • Lance

      i was laughing a lot when they were chanting that lol

  • Ram

    Wow! Dallas won even after officiating favor so much for Miami HEAT and with so much turnovers

  • Bigot Lance

    So what was the overall tally.. IE, who got screwed over the most?

  • Underscore

    I don’t know how the basket interference by Wade doesn’t get called. It’s so blatant that no ref could have missed it…

  • Anonymous

    And the final score:
    Bad calls for Miami: 16
    Bad calls for Dallas: 11

    Miami is the biggest pack of whiners I’ve ever seen.  After every single call you’ll see Wade or Lebron standing nearby muttering to the closest ref.  Shut the hell up and play – it’s clear you’re getting all the calls anyways.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    That’s correct — the traveling that’s allowed right now is through practice, but with this very uncomfortable and weird disregard for what the rules say. I think this is one of the biggest questions that needs to be resolved. Not just by the league, but by all people who follow or are involved with the game of basketball. The league has a vested interest, and conflict of interest, to shape the game the way they think will generate the most money, which is not always what’s best for the game, or fair for the players.

    The league has been deviating away from the rules for years to have a game evolve that alot of people have a problem with — it’s rewarding a blatant disregard of the rules by the people who are chartered with maintaining them. It would be like an activist judge creating legislation from the bench, not on the law. Or similarly, the U.S. being irresponsible with its fiscal health by running up large deficits ($14 trillion and counting), and doing nothing about it because it’s easier to let it ride than to try to create true reform.

    If there is a rulebook, the rules should be followed, or amended. The problem with amending it is that it forces the rule writers to put a stake in the ground and say more explicitly, “This is not a travel. This is a travel.” The problem with that is that it would create alot of attention and discussion among basketball diehards (who want to keep the game fair and prevent its bastardization) that they don’t want to field, similar to how Congress hasn’t created a budget. Putting things down in writing is inconvenient for people who have an agenda in mind and don’t want to face opposition to that agenda.

    People who accept the “gather,” even if it’s not in the rule book, but continue to use that word and concept, are lemmings. They may not know they are lemmings, but they are. That’s how much brainwashing has occurred over the past few 15-20 years. If you let something that’s wrong perpetuate for an entire generation, then the next generation doesn’t know any better and they will accept it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=619154119 Rajan Patel

      “This is an example of a traveling violation. A dribbler may take two steps after gathering the ball to end a dribble. On this play, the offensive player takes three steps after gathering the ball. He gathers the ball prior to putting his right foot down in front of the defensive player (step one: first freeze frame). He takes his second step with his left foot on the free-throw line (step two: second freeze frame). Finally, he takes his third step with his right foot into the lane while attempting his shot (step three: third freeze frame).”

      • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

        Yeah, we saw that long ago and responded to another commenter who brought up the same. Our response is still the same — the written rulebook is the definitive rules. Anything on an NBA.com Web page like this shows how much of a discrepancy there is between the people who write the definitive rules (the written rulebook downloadable at http://nba.com/officiating), and the interpretation of whoever posted this text on a “consumer-facing” page of NBA.com. It could have been anyone from an intern to someone who thinks they know the rules, but doesn’t, because they didn’t check the real rulebook first. What a mess the NBA documentation is. People aren’t checking each other for discrepancies like we are. When in doubt, resort to the “real” rulebook, not some NBA.com web page where an intern, a temp, or a contractor might have written what they thought the rules are.

        There are other discrepancies with the so-called video rulebook and the “real” rulebook, like interpretations regarding the restricted area.

  • Anonymous

    Could you guys calculate how many points the fouls led to? Obviously some fouls are more costly than others. For example: D-Wade traveled on a dunk, therefore subtract 2 Miami Heat points. 

    • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

      I think some people have done it on our Facebook page at http://facebook.com/refcalls. That’s actually been one of the things we want to calculate eventually, but it’s so much work to create/edit these videos and to write our content, we actually encourage the user community to dig into the game data and calculate if points resulted because of the missed call, etc. Some of the calculations can still be subjective. For example, if a player picks up a foul that sends him to the bench earlier than normal, how much does that affect how many points the team scores or gives up on defense. So we’d rather have the community think about doing that after we put the raw data out there for all to use as their baseline for producing calculations.

  • Teletheus

    Please tell me that Wade’s game-ending flop with the fluttering eyes–an obvious and desperate attempt to convince the ref he was poked in the eye and get three free-throws–is going to show up on TopFlops.com.

    • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

      Yeah, we’ll put it on TopFlops.com. We’ve been so busy doing in-depth analysis during the Finals, we’ve kind of fallen behind but will plan to do an update soon,

  • Lance

    Personally, I disagree on the Miller tech question. I think Miller deserved that, and I don’t think Barea fell on purpose, it was more on hustle. Miller was upset, as seen in his face, and maybe that’s why he got a technical.

    • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

      It would be a shame if the refs start calling technicals based on facial expressions after that player has been hit. The “respect of the game” technicals are already silly enough.

  • Wormboy

    I’d argue that Barea was swinging his right knee around aggressively, so the case for Barea receiving a T is as good as Miller.  Double T or no T, I say.  The double T would just be to keep tempers cool.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    Yeah, we ended up giving the refs the benefit of the doubt on that one because his foot was so much closer to the floor on his first step when he completed his dribble than what we’ve normally seen players do, and almost impossible for anyone to detect at real speed without slowing down the video. Maybe one solution to detect these is if the league used some advanced technology, kind of like what tennis does to see if a ball is in or out of bounds almost instantaneously. Just a thought.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    Good question about the first one. While Wade was complaining, the Mavericks had a fast break going up the court after Wade’s miss, and a couple of seconds later they would score on a dunk. Wade definitely deserved a technical, but you’ll see refs not wanting to penalize the other team by blowing a whistle and stopping the other team’s fast break the other way. So Wade was very lucky the Mavs were running that break, and the Mavs might have been angered if the refs had blown a whistle during their fast break.

    Not sure how calls against Mavs in #7 & #8 are related to Wade not receiving a technical. By that time, Wade had calmed down.

    On the second incident, Wade didn’t really throw the ball down forcefully or in frustration. He just bounced it against the stanchion of the goal, which doesn’t have malicious intent. If he had thrown it against the stanchion in anger and with much more force, then it would have been deserving of a technical.

    • Robbieuva

      Thanks for the analysis!  I only watched the game in real time and was going off memory – your willingness to go back and watch the “tape” is appreciated.

      • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

        Thanks! Glad to have you on board!

  • David Stern

    it’s pretty easy to call a travel when you are using video analysis or even when you are watching from home with multiple angles…

    • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

      Agreed. Refs need more training to get close to what replays show, or even understanding what the rulebook says what a travel is. Until these two things happen, nothing much will change.

  • DaMavs02

    I feel like on the traveling calls, the rule is always going to be subjective, unfortunately, and the league may need to give the refs some guidance regarding whether or not an advantage was gained by the offensive player by using a baby/gather/euro step or lifting the pivot foot.

    I also feel like if a good defensive play is made, forcing the offensive player into dragging/lifting or taking extra steps, I would rather see a travel call in that instance.

    I don’t want travel calls on lifting and replacing a pivot in place (or with minimal movement) while an offensive player is starting their move on the perimeter.  I feel like in many of those instances, the timing is tight enough between release of the ball and lift of the pivot foot that no advantage is gained.

    I also feel like some players are demonstrating control of the ball and taking a long stride for their first of three steps.  I feel like that’s substantially more of an advantage than ‘gathering’ the ball as your foot is falling to the ground.

    I feel like it would be tough for refs in real time to call some of the travels shown in the video.  But I do think they should be comfortable calling some of the more obvious 3 step moves.  Even though from a strict rulebook interpretation there isn’t any difference.  

    • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

      Good comments. Regarding the first, yes, the idea of determining if an advantage was gained is a viable one, and including that language in the rulebook. That might cut down on some of the violations. The bulk of the problem will still rest with those drives to the basket.

      Regarding lifting the pivot foot out on the perimeter when starting a dribble, we believe if they are driving to the basket, that advantage they get to lean forward when their defender is real close to them is pretty big. If they can lean forward, but not lift their pivot foot behind them, then release the ball on the dribble, then lift their pivot foot (which is all allowed), that would be a good compromise. We can see why the rule makers put that provision into place because of the advantage you get in leaning forward to get past your man. It’s kind of like the little baby step you get on some of these travels, but with the baby step occurring behind you rather than in front of you.

      We agree on the long stride thing. You don’t see many players who are capable of doing it since it’s a fairly athletic move, and occurs when a player is running close to full speed. So we don’t have many clips of that to feature The player who comes to mind who does that best is Derrick Rose, and on rare occasion.

      We think if the league tried to train the refs to look for a pattern of steps, there might be some improvement. Kind of like if you look at a bicycle wheel enough and get better at determining if it rotated at close to full speed and can discern if it rotated twice, or more than two times, the refs might get good at getting it right. Not that they have to be able to count exactly when the steps occurred, but just realize the pattern is there.

      Or maybe use technology somehow, like how pro tennis can determine instantaneously if a ball was out of bounds or not, however they do that. I know there’s concern of slowing down the game for the review, so we’re sensitive to that. But maybe just the threat that it could be used would be a deterrent.

      I’d also suggest that the league be more proactive with the teams in the off-season or training camp by meeting in private with known traveling offenders on a basketball court to show them what they’re doing is illegal so the players can adjust their bread-and-butter moves to be in more compliance long before the season begins. If they don’t comply, at least they will know beforehand that the threat of getting those travels called are more likely to occur.

      • DaMavs02

        I seem to remember sometime 3 or 4 years ago, the officials started off the season with a renewed enforcement on lifting the pivot foot on the perimeter.  In particular, I remember a game where Tracy McGrady got called for 3 or 4 travels where he would just take off from outside the 3 point line without releasing the ball.  I remember it taking a few games, but players adjusted.

        I certainly think it’s something they could try enforcing at the beginning of next year and clean up the extra early steps, the incorrect jump stops, the steps after jump stops, etc.

        It’s clear they need to sit down with certain players, because when some of the big names do get called for travels after multiple infractions, they seem furious.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    You must have missed our post that discusses this topic in full detail where we break down the NBA rulebook sections regarding traveling. See section 1 at http://refcalls.com/2011/04/30/misconceptions-about-traveling-blocking-need-to-be-resolved/. We promote this post in a couple of videos (shortcut: http://refcalls.com/rule-issues). I think you’ll find this is not a “blatant disregard” or “blatant misinterpretation.” This is probably one of the most detailed analysis that’s been done on this topic.

  • Sean

    Great site! I’m a Suns fan watching the Finals with the interest of a general NBA fan. That said, the only call in this post I take some issue with is Dirk’s foul on LeBron at 9:20 – Dirk clearly reaches in from behind and makes contact with LeBron before the elbow. I think the TV analyst Van Gundy gets it right here: good foul call on Dirk, LeBron better be careful with his elbow response, and bad T call on Carlisle.

    • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

      Thanks for the compliment. We think Van Gundy was wrong. We reviewed that play many times more than the one chance Van Gundy had to watch it before he made his comment, and like we mentioned, LeBron actually stopped all of a sudden, making Dirk run into him before raising his elbow into his chest.

      • Sean

        I agree that LeBron stops suddenly, initiating the major contact with Dirk. What I’m saying is that it looks to me like Dirk reached in before LeBron stopped, which I’m guessing was the original foul call.