Did Russell Westbrook travel in the waning seconds of last night’s Thunder Game 1 win? Yeah, totally. Does that ever get called, let alone late in a playoff game? Ehhh.
The Thunder were up three with 17.2 seconds left when Westbrook picked up his dribble and called a timeout after crossing half-court. He looked like he also picked up and dragged his pivot foot, and Klay Thompson and Steve Kerr, right there, immediately motioned for a travel. But Westbrook was given the timeout, and his a free throw on the ensuing possession to more or less put things away.
In a postgame interview with NBA TV, VP of replay and referee operations Joe Borgia admitted it was a missed call, and blamed the angles the officials had for the omission.
“No one could get in a good position to see him drag that pivot foot. It’s an unfortunate miss, but so much going on in the play, the speed of it, and officiating is about getting angles and sometimes you just can’t get them, and they did not get a great angle on that play.”
Yeah, maybe things go very differently if Golden State gets the ball there with a chance to tie. The Warriors were pointedly silent about the no-call after the game, and from an objective standpoint it’s tough to get too bent out of shape over it—that part of the rulebook is notoriously pliable even in the best of times. Still, it’s another technically blown call down the stretch in a close playoff game. I don’t know if there are more of those this season, or if the NBA’s just better about admitting them, but it’s got to be getting frustrating, especially for the Thunder’s opponents.