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

June 4th, 2011 29 comments

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:

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

Dallas:
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.

Mavericks-Thunder (Game 3): First half pretty clean of bad calls, but second half made up for it

May 22nd, 2011 18 comments

In last night’s Dallas-Oklahoma City game, there weren’t that many bad calls in the first half. Dallas was running away with it, so maybe that had something to do with it.

But in the second half, the bad calls and wrong no-calls increased as the game got tighter as OKC made their comeback. Makes you wonder if a correlation is there. Hmmm….You can decide for yourself in the video below.

Here’s a summary of the calls (described in detail below). We don’t claim these are all of them, but a pretty thorough representation (Don’t get mad, OKC fans. If you see some we missed, you can report them here in the RefCalls forums):

Wrong calls/no-calls penalizing Dallas – 8
Wrong calls/no-calls penalizing OKC – 3

Wrong calls/no-calls by refs:

  • Scott Foster – 5
  • Marc Davis – 4
  • Bob Delaney – 1
  • Shared among multiple refs – 1

In the video above, you’ll see the following:

  • Ref Scott Foster calls a loose ball foul on Dallas’ Tyson Chandler after OKC’s Kendrick Perkins had his arm wrapped around Chandler’s neck.
  • Ref Marc Davis calls a loose ball foul on Dallas’ Brendan Haywood, but with the help of some good selling by OKC’s Nick Collison.
  • Dallas’ Shawn Marion will drive to the basket and seems to get fouled intentionally by OKC’s Thabo Sefolosha, but there was no call.
  • Ref Marc Davis calls a foul on Dallas’ Tyson Chandler for fouling OKC’s Russell Westbrook, but it didn’t look like there was much contact, if any.
  • Ref Scott Foster calls a technical on OKC’s Russell Westbrook, which didn’t seem all that major, when it was actually in response to a little shove from Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki. This should have been a no-call.
  • Ref Marc Davis will call a technical foul on Dallas’ Tyson Chandler for elbowing OKC’s James Harden in the face. Although there was contact worthy of a foul, Harden sold it well by dropping to the floor like a sack of potatoes.
  • The refs made a correct no-call on a ball that OKC’s James Harden lost as he was going up. The OKC fans thought Dirk Nowitzki had fouled him, which wasn’t the case.
  • The refs made a correct no-call for not calling a traveling violation on Dallas’ Shawn Marion when many of the OKC fans thought he traveled.
  • The refs seemed to miss a charging call on OKC’s Kevin Durant when Dallas’ Jason Kidd beat him to the spot.
  • Ref Scott Foster called a foul on Dallas’ Jose Barea when it looked like he didn’t make any contact (or negligible contact) on OKC’s Russell Westbrook.
  • Ref Scott Foster calls a loose ball a foul on Dallas’ Tyson Chandler when it didn’t look like there was any significant contact.
  • Ref Marc Davis calls a foul on Dallas’ Jose Barea for fouling OKC’s Russell Westbrook, when it didn’t look like there was much contact, if any.
  • Ref Marc Davis calls a foul on Dallas’ Jason Terry for fouling OKC’s James Harden when it didn’t look like there was much contact, if any.
  • Ref Scott Foster will call a foul on OKC’s Nick Collison for fouling Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki, when it didn’t look like there was much contact, if any.
  • Ref Bob Delaney didn’t call a foul on Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki when he shoved OKC’s Nick Collison, which is inconsistent with the technical foul that Westbrook received for a similar shove earlier in the game.

Thunder @ Mavericks (Game 1): Select calls from the 1st half, including whistle-happy Joe Crawford

May 18th, 2011 10 comments

There were so many questionable calls and no-calls from last night’s game between Oklahoma City and Dallas, we’ve decided to break up our analysis into two separate videos. A video from second half action will be coming out later today.

In this video, you’ll get a glimpse why referee Joe Crawford (#55) is considered so “whistle happy,” calling ticky-tack fouls on negligible contact.

Here’s a breakdown of the clips in the video above:

  • Ref Zach Zarba (#33) calls questionable double technical fouls on Tyson Chandler and Kendrick Perkins for fairly minor extracurricular activity.
  • Ref Joe Crawford arguably misses a travel on Dirk Nowitzki (which we describe in detail happens with other players on this blog post here and here).
  • Ref Zach Zarba misses a shooting foul from Dirk Nowitzki on Russell Westbrook.
  • Ref Bill Kennedy calls a terrible shooting foul on Jason Terry involving Kevin Durant.
  • Ref Bill Kennedy gets wrong an out-of-bounds call involving Jason Terry, but to Kennedy’s credit, he was shielded from the play, and he did check with another ref to see if he had a better angle on it, which he didn’t.
  • Ref Joe Crawford calls a ticky-tack foul on Jason Terry
  • Ref Joe Crawford calls a questionable foul (looks like he was wrong) on Tyson Chandler when another ref who had a better angle on the play didn’t call anything.

Heat-Bulls (Game 1): Some pretty bad calls against both teams, and some sad commentary from Steve Kerr

May 16th, 2011 25 comments

We’ve decided to focus on some of the calls from the Miami-Chicago game yesterday rather than Game 7 of Memphis-Oklahoma City that was played earlier in the day. That’s because OKC was never really threatened after they blew the game open in the 3rd quarter. Plus, it’s just not as interesting to point out ref calls for a series that’s over, unless there was a call that could have changed the outcome of the game, which there wasn’t.

In the video below you’ll see much more interesting calls for the Heat-Bulls series that could go a full seven games.

Here’s a breakdown of the clips in the video:

  • Ref Ken Mauer assigns a shooting foul on Keith Bogans for fouling LeBron James although it didn’t look like James was close to being in a shooting motion.
  • The entire ref crew gives Miami a break by not assigning a technical foul for having six players on the floor at one time.
  • Ref Dan Crawford assigns a ticky-tack foul on Kyle Korver when guarding LeBron James.
  • The refs failed to review if a shot by Carlos Boozer at the buzzer beat the shot clock (which it didn’t).
  • The refs failed to miss a travel by Derrick Rose, but even worse, TNT announcer Steve Kerr, while watching the slo-mo replay, fawns all over Rose’s ball handling abilities — hyping it up — without ever thinking Rose might have traveled. Just goes to show that even former NBA players get caught up in the hype without thinking of the rules.
  • Ref Ken Mauer misses Ronnie Brewer‘s foot on the baseline right before a dunk that gave the Bulls a 14-point lead with 8:59 remaining in the game.

Celtics-Heat (Game 1): Some of the worst calls we’ve seen in a single game these playoffs

May 2nd, 2011 8 comments

Although there were two playoff games on Sunday (Memphis-Oklahoma City, and Boston-Miami), the latter game was much more eventful from a ref call perspective, so we’ll feature several bad calls and mistakes from Celtics-Heat. There were 2 or 3 calls that just left you wondering, “What were they thinking?”

We’ve left much of the commentary from analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson in the video below unedited so you can hear their analysis of the rules and how they should be enforced in these situations, with which we agree wholeheartedly.

The first call featured involving Delonte West hanging on the rim wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was still a mistake in how the refs interpreted it, we believe. But the other calls/no-calls were astounding. Check it out below…

Celtics-Knicks (Game 4): Mystery technical leaves everyone confused

April 25th, 2011 1 comment

In Sunday’s Celtics-Knicks game, there wasn’t much controversial from the refs, especially since the game was pretty much a runaway win for the Celtics. But there was one technical foul that left everyone confused, including the announcers. The unedited video is in the player below of how it all went down.

Magic-Hawks (Game 3): Zaza, J-Rich and Dwight get into it late, and refs get the fouls right

April 23rd, 2011 2 comments

Last night in Atlanta it got a little crazy down the stretch in the Magic-Hawks playoff game #3.

The most controversy occurred with 2:22 remaining in the 4th quarter when Zaza Pachulia (Atlanta), Jason Richardson and Dwight Howard (Orlando) were involved in an altercation, which led to Pachulia and Richardson getting ejected.

Just a few minutes earlier, Zaza had flopped to draw an offensive foul on Howard, which is the first clip in the video below. Then as you’ll see in the second clip, things got real chippy when Zaza came down hard on the arm of Howard, who retaliated, setting off a firestorm.

Tuesday’s featured calls: Knicks-Celtics (Game 2) – couple of 4Q no-calls help Boston

April 20th, 2011 4 comments

All three of the playoff games Tuesday night had their fair share of bad calls and no-calls. But as we’re sure you can understand, we can’t try to tackle all of the bad calls and good calls in a game. There are just too many.

What we do try to focus on are those close games where there were some pivotal calls in the 4th quarter that could have changed the outcome of the game.

It’s not ideal, but we think over time as we evaluate more cases like these, we’ll have so many of them that it will might bring more attention to the breadth of the problem, and fans will become more educated about them. Then perhaps the powers-that-be will do something to address them.

Among Tuesday’s games, the best game to select was the Knicks-Celtics game because it went down to the wire, whereas the other games were not as close where one bad call would have made a difference in changing the outcome of the game.

After reviewing the Knicks-Celtics’ 4th quarter in detail, there were two calls/no-calls that we thought were wrong that helped Boston. There was one no-call for New York that helped them.

At the 11:07 mark, Glen Davis barreled into Jared Jeffries out-of-bounds, which should have been a technical on Big Baby. Referee Bennett Salvatore (#15) was the closest ref who missed the call, although it was so clear what happened, the other refs (Joe Crawford (#17) and Michael Smith (#38)) could have blown the whistle as well.

How Jeffries restrained himself from retaliating was impressive…or maybe wimpy? You can check it out in the video player below the 6:30 entry.

After that, there were two travels by the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony that weren’t called. He scored on one of them at the 10-minute mark. We won’t even provide a video for it because as we’ve explained in our special report at Refcalls.com/missed-travels, there can be up to 40-50 missed travels per game, and Anthony is a notorious offender who is rarely caught (like most players). However, if a team wins late in a game because of a missed travel, we’ll feature it.

8:48 – There was a questionable blocking foul on Delonte West while guarding Carmelo Anthony. It looked like that Melo might have pushed off, but West got the foul. But since New York lost, it didn’t change the outcome of the game.

6:30 – Rajon Rondo lifts his pivot foot before releasing the ball (and thus travels), spins around his defender, scores, and there’s no call from ref Joe Crawford (#17), the closest ref to the play. Because Boston won this game and it was such a big score as the Celtics were making a comeback to give them an 82-81 lead, we have also featured it in the video below.

2:40 – Paul Pierce bumped Anthony with his body, but there was no call. Fortunately for Anthony, a second later after bouncing off Pierce, he put up a 3-point shot and hit it to give NY a 91-88 lead.

From that point, Boston made plays down the stretch, and New York didn’t. Thankfully after Rondo’s travel and bucket at the 6:30 mark, there was really no other call that had a huge bearing on changing the outcome of the game, which is good since we’ve all seen much worse. But Rondo’s missed travel that helped Boston get the lead has to make Knick fans feel a little sick on Wednesday morning.