Tim Donaghy On Game 4: When Referees Overstep Their BoundsS

As he has done for us in years past, Tim Donaghy, the owner and operator of RefPicks.comand a former NBA referee who spent 11 months in prison for relaying inside information to gamblers, will review the performance of his former colleagues during the NBA Finals. Here's a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of Game 4, with accompanying video.

First Quarter

11:13: Correct call. Wade's pump fake gets Splitter to jump towards him rather than going straight up. If Splitter had just gone straight up in the air and Wade had jumped into him, this would not have been a foul. Smart play by Wade.

9:51: Confusion on the play, one referee has a shooting foul and one doesn't—clearly a shooting foul.

8:00: This is a foul that needs to be called. James adds a flop at the end of the play that doesn't help him.

5:42: Illegal screen called that is incorrect. Bosh stumbles and flops, and the official who makes the call has no clear view of the play, so he's just guessing. The official who actually has a good view of the play never blows his whistle. This kind of thing happens a lot during the regular season in situations where a veteran referee feels the need to compensate for the inexperience of his colleagues by making calls outside of his area. But this is the playoffs, and these are supposed to be the best referees in the league. They should trust each other to make the correct decision.

4:11: This ball goes off Green. Wade swats at the ball and sends it caroming off of Green's knee and out of bounds.

4:09: Travel? Really? The official couldn't make up his mind as to whether this play was a block or a charge, so he just decided to call a travel instead. This isn't even close to a travel. If calls like this were made all the time, there would be 50 traveling violations in each game.

Second Quarter

10:02: This is a missed foul. Parker undercuts Cole and causes enough contact to force a turnover.

7:26: James goes into the legal defender with his shoulder. This is a correct charge call.

6:07: Should not have been an Illegal screen called on Duncan here. Bosh is able to fool the referee by flopping after taking slight contact from Duncan. There's not enough here to warrant a foul call.

2:41: Correct call—Wade grabs Diaw's arm. Unfortunately, the official with the best view of the play lets it go, and the official who is stationed across the court has to come in and make the call. Although this call was made correctly, it's still not OK for the referee who is furthest away from the play to be making the call. More often than not, the call is going to be made incorrectly in this kind of situation. The NBA would rather have a few fouls like this one slip by than referees overstepping their bounds and making calls on plays they don't have a good view of.

Third Quarter

9:03: Missed out-of-bounds call. The defender knocks the ball loose, which goes out of bounds after bouncing off of Bosh's leg. The Spurs should have been given possession here.

8:28: Bad call on the shooting foul. Wade gets all ball on this block.

4:19: Bad no-call. Bosh puts two hands into the back of Duncan and pushes him in order to get the rebound and score two points.

2:24: Not a foul. The official who makes this call is 30 feet away from the play. Meanwhile, the two referees who passed on this call look around to see where the whistle came from like, "What the fuck was that?" Again, this is an example of one official—Scott Foster in this case—failing to trust his colleagues and making a mistake because of it. This is the kind of thing that really pisses referees off, and Foster spent all night stepping on his crews' toes. That doesn't surprise me, though. Foster has a big ego, and has long been NBA scheduler Matt Winick's golden boy—which explains why Foster keeps getting playoff assignments despite not being very trusting of his fellow referees.

Fourth Quarter

8:46: Splitter goes into and through the set defender. This is an offensive foul, not a block as called.

2:02: Wade shuffles his feet and travels. This is a bad no-call.

Image by Jim Cooke

Tim Donaghy is the owner and operator of RefPicks.com.