Giannis clearly out of bounds on winner vs. Thunder; why do we even have replay?

Here are the nuts and bolts of the basketball travesty that played out in Oklahoma City on Friday night: After Russell Westbrook hit a 3-pointer to tie the game with less than five seconds to play, Giannis Antetokounmpo answered with a baseline drive and finish over Westbrook to give the Bucks a 97-95 victory. 

Only one problem. 

Giannis clearly stepped out of bounds. 

So here we go again with the NBA's increasingly useless replay system, which even has LeBron at his wit's end -- as it should after the NBA admitted his Cavs were wronged by two pivotal, non-reviewable calls in their Christmas loss to the Warriors

Turns out, this Giannis play isn't "reviewable" either because there was no whistle to begin with -- but, as ESPN's Royce Young astutely points out, what about toe-on-the-line 3-point shots? There isn't a whistle on those, either. The game goes on. But they still review them. And change them, if necessary. 

Think about that. If the Giannis play had been a borderline 3-point shot to win the game, they would've stopped the action immediately and reviewed it to see if his foot was on the line. In fact, they did this to Toronto's DeMar DeRozan on a crucial three late in the game against the Cavs on Monday. In checking to see if DeRozan's foot was on the line, they discovered that it was, in fact, on the sideline. No basket. 

Tell me, what is the difference between the 3-point line and the sideline? Or, in the case of this Giannis play, the baseline? Quit making this more difficult than it needs to be. Take 30 seconds, go to the monitor, and get it right. 

Nope. Can't do that. 

So now this official is going to get the heat for blatantly missing this call, which is fair. He screwed up in a big way at a really bad time, and he was right on top of the play and thus couldn't have been in more perfect position to see it. But isn't that the point of having a replay system? Don't we all agree that getting all these calls right at game speed is next to impossible? And don't we all agree that getting the calls right is the whole point?

If it's not, then just scrap the replay system altogether and at least stop grinding games down to a halt to review every little call ... except, you know, the calls that actually matter. At least if there were no system in place, sitting right there just waiting to be used, we could perhaps accept the human-error aspect of officiating. But when you have a system in place specifically designed to combat human error, it's a slap in the face to not use it all the way. 

Not part of the way. 

Not for some calls but not others. 

All the way. Period. 

Again, does it have to be this difficult? Give each team a couple challenges per game. That's it. If a coach is smart enough to hang onto his challenges and a late-game situation arises like this one in OKC on Friday, he should absolutely be able to review that play. And don't talk to me about how much this would slow the game down with even more reviews, because this would actually speed the game up as you wouldn't have to review every single borderline call. Only the ones for which the coaches choose to use one of their precious challenges. 

Who knows, maybe there's a better system than that. That's for the league to figure out without making it so we're reviewing a play every time down the floor. All I know is this happens way, way too often in the NBA, because these players are huge and freakishly athletic, and the game moves at breakneck speed, and there is just so much to try to watch at once. How else do you explain officials missing this blatant travel by Marcus Smart in the Celtics' comeback win over Houston on Thursday?

Again, the NBA admitted it missed this call, too. Lot of good that does the Rockets, who would've likely won that game if that travel wasn't missed. Now, sure, perhaps there's some 20-20 hindsight happening here. Perhaps nobody on the Houston bench saw the play in real time either, and thus they never would've called for a replay to begin with. But the option should be there. The system is in place. Use it.

Because these games matter. How many times have you heard a coach say that a game in December counts as much as a game in March or April? They say it because it's true. Houston could well end up within a game or two of the No. 1 seed in the West, and if they don't get it, and end up having to play a Game 7 on the road vs. the Warriors, when they could have had it at home, because of this one missed call in December, how is any part of that right? 

OKC, similarly, is likely going to be in the thick of the playoff-seeding scrum. One win, or loss, could be the difference in home-court advantage in the first round. In getting the right, or wrong, matchup. These games matter. These calls matter. If you're the NBA, do everything in your power to get them right. Don't slap these teams and players in the face by issuing an after-the-fact report admitting to your mistake without actually trying to rectify it moving forward. 

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