Cleveland Cavaliers: Officiating mistakes hurt chances


The Cleveland Cavaliers lost a tough one in what seems like the annual Christmas game against the Golden State Warriors. The last few minutes of the game were questionable, but would those foul calls have made a difference?

Well…that was a tough loss to swallow for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In all my years of writing, talking and covering sports, I’ve always tried to stay away from blaming officials on the outcome of a game — except when it was obvious. The finish of the game on Monday against the Golden State Warriors had some very questionable officiating.

Some fans will state the obvious fact that if the Cavaliers played well throughout the game, it never would have been in the officials’ hands to decide the outcome.

While that’s true, sometimes, it just happens. That’s sports.

During the last two possessions of the Cavaliers, LeBron James was clearly fouled on both of them by Kevin Durant.

More from Cleveland Cavaliers

On the first play, James was driving to the basket, but because of Durant reaching inside on him, he fell down, lost control of the ball and it went out of bounds. The Warriors got the ball back.

The second foul was even more obvious.

James was driving to the hole, he beat Durant off the dribble, and as he went for the layup, Durant blocked him over the shoulder. He clearly made contact.

The ball went out of bounds, and the refs awarded the ball to the Warriors, after which point they made their free throws and won the game.

It was an atrocity for the officials to swallow the whistle on two crucial possessions. I understand that referees miss calls, but ones that obvious?  That”s bad.

It doesn’t matter if it was James or Brian Scalabrine, you have to make those calls. They should have at least gave the Cavs a chance to win in the end, and instead victory potentially got snatched by the jaws of defeat.

This was only one game, but NBA fans nationally finally realized the treatment the Cavs and James have been getting all season long from the officials.

If fouls like that won’t get called, they  won’t stand a chance in the postseason.

According to ESPN‘s Brian Windhorst, James is averaging  5.9 free throws a game, which is the lowest since his rookie season when he averaged 5.8 a game. He attempted 7.2 free throws a game last season. It’s insanity how the best player in the league doesn’t get calls.

I don’t want to hear about how big he is, or “It’s like officiating Shaquille O’ Neal.” It’s not even a comparison. One player spent 99 percent of the time in the post while the other is all over the court.

What makes this farce even worst is that it overshadowed a great game by Kevin Love. He was almost unstoppable.

Love finished the game with 31 points and 18 rebounds. The Warriors had no answer for him. He went 6-for-11 from 3-point range. It was the best all-around game we’ve seen Love play against Golden State.

However, the only thing that will be remembered from this game on a Cavs fan’s perspective is the faux pas by the officials. It’s just unacceptable.

Dwyane Wade and Jae Crowder also had good games. James struggled with turnovers and missed shots. A lot of that was due to the defense of Durant and Draymond Green.

The gameplan of stopping him and forcing everybody else to score worked. It still doesn’t negate the fact that two game-changing fouls weren’t called.

I’m not saying the Cavaliers would have won, but at least give them a chance to lose on their own accord and not by terrible officiating down the stretch.

These two teams will play each other again on Martin Luther King Day. Isaiah Thomas and Stephen Curry should be back by that time.

Next: 2018 NBA Mock Draft: End of 2017 edition

The rivalry was already a heated one, those missed calls could make the flame even brighter now. The two-minute report of the game should be interesting.