- Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
- The Golden State Warriors won Game 1 of the NBA Finals over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night, 124-114, in overtime.
- The win came with the help of a controversial call in the final seconds of regulation, which saw a charge on the Warriors turn into a blocking foul on the Cavaliers after the referees reviewed the play.
- The changed call helped the Warriors force overtime but baffled the NBA world.
The Golden State Warriors took home Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night, defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers, 124-114, in overtime to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
While the game was hard-fought on both ends, there’s little doubt that extra attention will be paid to the officiating in the final seconds of regulation.
The Cavaliers held a 104-102 lead with 36 seconds left in regulation when maybe the biggest turning point of the game occurred. Kevin Durant drove to the basket, drawing contact from LeBron James. While the impact was initially called as an offensive foul, the officials gathered at the review booth and would go on to change the call to a blocking foul on James.
The resulting free throws would tie the game, 104-104, and after another exchange by both offensive powerhouses, the game would head to overtime 107-107.
The Warriors would eventually prevail in overtime, outscoring the Cavaliers to take home a Game 1 victory, 124-114. But the call that sent the game to five extra minutes would not sit well with Cavaliers fans.
Former NBA referee Steve Javie broke down the play after the game on “SportsCenter,” making clear just how close the call was.
“This is a real difficult call,” Javie said. “They obviously changed it to a blocking foul because [James] was moving.”
He added: “This is the kind of play that’s 50/50, some guys will say it’s a charge, some guys will call it a block. In real time, it’s definitely a charge. In slow motion, instant replay, it’s a really difficult play.”
You can hear Javie’s analysis and judge for yourself below.
Across the NBA, fans and analysts were dismayed by the call. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith made his feelings clear on the referees’ change of heart, calling the decision “Inexcusable.”
“If you call it in the moment, that’s one thing, But it’s too close to call, for the referees to insert themselves into that equation by going to the videotapes and reviewing it, and overturning a call that’s clearly is not that decisive.”
Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue was equally in disbelief of the call, saying it had never been done before, especially on such a big stage.
— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) June 1, 2018
Many in the NBA world criticized the reversal.
The “let’s check if he’s in the restricted area” trigger is such a joke. He was clearly not and they used that to review a judgment call that otherwise isn’t reviewable.
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) June 1, 2018
I don't care how it was called, I just don't see how you can review that but not the other myriad of bad calls they make throughout the game. https://t.co/x0a9S59OJH
— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) June 1, 2018
That was a clear blocking foul. But that's new to me that you can reverse a foul call
— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) June 1, 2018
Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, the questionable call would end up ultimately deciding the game. The Warriors dominated in overtime to finish with a 124-114 win in Game 1.