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Marcus Smart’s final play was probably a travel, but it’s never going to get called

Does this look legal to you?

The Celtics closed out the 76ers with a 114-112 win in Game 5 of their second-round series on Wednesday. The Sixers tried to set up a game-tying or winning shot with a long heave just before the buzzer, but Boston’s Marcus Smart skied for the ball like a cornerback, intercepted it, and prevented Philly from getting that chance. Time ran out.

Here’s Smart’s interception, slowed down. Watch the landing:

Here’s a passage from the NBA rulebook on traveling.

I’ve added some bolding:

A player who receives the ball while he is progressing or upon completion of a dribble, may take two steps in coming to a stop, passing or shooting the ball. A player who receives the ball while he is progressing must release the ball to start his dribble before his second step. The first step occurs when a foot, or both feet, touch the floor after gaining control of the ball. The second step occurs after the first step when the other foot touches the floor, or both feet touch the floor simultaneously.

It sure looks like Smart took three steps.

That’s illegal. You’re not allowed to take that many steps in basketball.

But this is the NBA, and that’s never going to get called in that spot.

If you’re a Philadelphia sports fan who (rightfully) didn’t think the Eagles should’ve been flagged in the Super Bowl when they pushed line-of-scrimmage rules on that trick-play Nick Foles touchdown, then you get it, even though it’s less fun now.

Some things just don’t get called. It’s not the Celtics’ problem.