Tim Donaghy On Game 2: The Trouble With Subjectivity

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donaghy game 2 - Q1

As he did for us last year, Tim Donaghy, a contributing writer for The Sports Connection (www.DannyB.info) and 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 break down of Game 2, with accompanying video.

[Game 1] [Game 2] [Game 3] [Game 4] [Game 5] [Game 6]



9:18 [TIE 4-4] Shot clock should have been reset as soon as Dallas gets the ball. James saves the ball, which is a change of possession. All three officials should have checked the clock.


6:51 [DAL 12-9] Not much of a foul on this play at the basket.

6:36 [DAL 13-9] Bibby is not set on this screen on the low block. The offensive player must give the defender time to stop and change direction. Missed call, which is a little surprising. Officials will whistle this 95 percent of the time in the first few minutes of a game to remind offenses to set legal screens.

5:03 [MIA 16-13] Travel called on James — six steps was too many, I guess. It helped that the entire Mavs bench jumped out of their seats, screaming.

2:17 [MIA 21-20] Travel missed on Stojakovic as he comes into the lane.

First quarter | Second quarter | Third quarter | Fourth quarter

donaghy game 2 - Q2


10:09 [TIE 32-32] Late whistle, cheap foul. I suspect Joey Crawford calls this late because Terry misses the shot. Had the shot gone in, he wouldn't have called it. Also, it helps that the entire Mavs bench screams for the whistle. That can have an effect, believe it or not. You're making a split-second decision. A lot can influence you in that fraction of a moment. That's why Kobe and Wade scream every time they go to the basket.


8:31 [DAL 39-34] Haslem holds on this rebound. The foul is ignored because Dallas gets the ball anyway. That's standard operating procedure in the NBA, and it brings up an interesting dilemma. A younger referee coming into the league is pretty much taught, by veteran referees and his group supervisor, to call the play that way. If it's a minor foul and the fouled player's team winds up with the ball, he's told, let it go. It helps the flow of the game, and maybe spares a good player a foul he'll need later. But calls, or non-calls, like that can create problems. What if a different referee sees a similar play on the other end but calls the foul instead? Suddenly, with one whistle, it looks as if the game's being called unfairly. That's the problem with allowing (and encouraging) subjective calls, even minor ones.

7:22 [DAL 39-34] Technical foul on Mike Miller. Why? This should've been a double-technical foul or nothing at all. Miller reacts to the way Barea fouled him, but Barea pushes him as hard as Miller pushed back. I could understand the call if there'd been a scuffle earlier in the game, but nothing even close to a fight had taken place.


7:04 [DAL 40-34] Wade grabs the ball while it's still in the cylinder and dunks. Basket interference is missed.

3:07 [DAL 49-42] Wade is fouled from behind on the layup. It's a nudge, but it has to be called. Wade jumps all over the official, along with the entire Miami bench. Why no technical, you might wonder? If an official feels he may have blown a call, he'll let the players and coaches get away with more of a reaction than he might have otherwise. It's worth noting that prior to this play, the Heat had shot three free throws the entire half. In the remaining three minutes, they shot eight free throws.


First quarter | Second quarter | Third quarter | Fourth quarter

donaghy game - Q3


11:33 [TIE 51-51] Bosh goes to the basket and gets stripped by Nowitzki. Correct no-call by the officials. A clue that this isn't a foul can be found in the fact that the ball drops straight to the floor. If the ball flies out to the side, that indicates that the hand was slapped. Officials will never blow the whistle when the ball goes straight to the floor.


6:06 [MIA 59-57] James is fouled but should get hit with a technical for the elbow he throws. Instead, Carlisle complains and gets a technical.

3:06 [MIA 70-61] Great block at the hoop. Good no-call by the referees.

2:47 [MIA 71-61] Another good no-call. Haslem flops and falls to the floor.

First quarter | Second quarter | Third quarter | Fourth quarter

donaghy game 2 - Q4


8:29 [MIA 81-73] James is whistled for a travel, even though the ball is deflected out of his hands. Bad call, but don't feel too sorry for LeBron — he's gotten away with several travels during the playoffs, and he'll get away with a few more before this series is over.


7:37 [MIA 83-73] This shouldn't be a shooting foul. The shooting motion doesn't begin until after the foul.

7:03 [MIA 88-73] This is not a foul on Haslem. This is a gift because Dallas is down 15, and the referees begin to officiate the score. I mentioned this after Game 1 — if a game looks to be in hand in the fourth quarter, refs will give the close calls to the losing team. Obviously, this game wasn't in hand.


4:10 [MIA 88-81] Not a foul on Chandler. James goes to the hoop; Chandler jumps straight up and establishes a legal guarding position. [Ed.'s note: Video not available.]

First quarter | Second quarter | Third quarter | Fourth quarter

Tim Donaghy is a contributing writer for The Sports Connection (www.DannyB.info), a handicapping website featuring gaming consultant Danny Berrelli. Additionally, Tim can be heard weekly on The Sports Connection Radio Show.


Video editing by Emma Carmichael.