With just about 30 seconds left in Game 1 of the NBA Finals and the Warriors down two, Kevin Durant blew by Jeff Green with ease. Nothing was going to stop him from getting to the rim and finishing at the rack.
But LeBron James stepped in Durant’s path, absorbed the contact and took a charge that got the Cavaliers a pivotal stop that should have given Cleveland all the momentum for the final few possessions of the game.
Until the officials reviewed the play.
Offensive foul or nah? You make the call pic.twitter.com/8szyxhq6Fw— gifdsports (@gifdsports) June 1, 2018
The referees reversed the call and turned the charge into a blocking foul on James. He and Tyronn Lue were puzzled by the ruling. It sent Durant to the line where he drained two free throws. It also shifted the momentum back into Golden State’s favor.
Why did they reverse the call?
NBA officials have been able to review block or charge foul calls in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter or during overtime since the 2012-13 season. According to the official NBA rulebook, the call is deemed a block if the defender is: a) Not in a legal guarding position, or b) in a legal guarding position, but inside the restricted area. The call is only deemed a charge if “the defender was in a legal guarding position and outside the restricted area.”
Replay Review (Callahan): if LeBron James was in the restricted area, as well as in legal guarding position, after he drew an offensive foul on Kevin Durant in Q4 of #CLEatGSW. Ruling: Overturned to blocking foul, James was not in legal guarding position.— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) June 1, 2018
Clarity on blk/charge review: The trigger is that if in the last 2 minutes of the 4th or overtime officials have doubt whether the defender was in the restricted area. While reviewing, they may also confirm if the defender was in legal guarding position when the contact occurred.— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) June 1, 2018
There’s a common misperception that a block/charge call can only be reversed based on whether the player was in the restricted area or not. The official wording is somewhat unclear, but this is not the first time a block/charge call was overturned in the final two minutes despite no change in where the defender’s feet are located. It happened in a Thunder-Pacers game in December, when this charge taken by Josh Huestis was overturned on a replay.
Huge play by Josh Huestis drawing the charge in crunch time. pic.twitter.com/s9tDj2KpDc— Up The Thunder (@UpTheThunder) December 14, 2017
James was not in the restricted area, but you can see his body moving while Durant goes up for his shot. Therefore, the officials changed the call.
It was a tough call and a bang-bang play on first look, but when you look again in slow motion, the call is clearer. It might not be the popular call, but it appears it was the right one.