Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers was a thrilling contest. In the end, the Warriors escaped with a 124-114 overtime victory, though the final score doesn't indicate just how close this game was for most of the way. In fact, the Warriors were perhaps lucky to even win in the first place.
On the final possession, George Hill had a chance to put the Cavaliers in front with a free throw with under five seconds remaining, but missed. J.R. Smith grabbed the rebound, but thinking the Cavs were winning -- the game was actually tied -- pulled the ball out and to send things to overtime.
But even before that, the Warriors were on the receiving end of some good fortune. With under 40 seconds to play, the Warriors were down by two points, and in need of a clutch basket. They gave the ball to Kevin Durant, and he drove into the lane, where he crashed into LeBron James. Initially, the refs called it a charge, which would have given the Cavs the ball, up two, with about 36 seconds to play.
But the referees got together, went to the monitor, and overturned the call on the floor. Instead, it was a block on LeBron, and Durant went to the line, where he drained two free throws to tie the game. After the game, the NBA Official Twitter account sent out a statement saying the refs were checking two things. One, if LeBron was in the restricted area, and two, if he was in legal guarding position. He was not in the restricted area, but the refs determined he was not in legal guarding position, so it was a block.
After the game, Cavs head coach Ty Lue was upset about the call.
Ty Lue on overturned call: "LeBron was clearly four feet outside the restricted area. He wasn't close. What are we reviewing? For our team to play their hearts out and compete the way we did, it's bad. It's never been done before... It ain't right."— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) June 1, 2018
More Ty Lue on reversed charge call: "To do what we did tonight and come up robbed, it's not right."— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) June 1, 2018
The referees, however, are allowed to go to the monitor on block/charge calls in the last two minutes. It's a rarely used rule, but it is something the officials are within their rights to review. But obviously that doesn't make this loss any easier for Lue and the Cavs to digest.