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2:30 AM ET, 6/19/06

Note to Mavs: Stop the whining

Posted by Kelly Dwyer
Avery Johnson
Avery Johnson had plenty of issues with Bennett Salvatore in Game 6.
Victor Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images
If you'll indulge me, I do believe it imperative that we run down some undeniable truths before we'd get to the heart of this post. Dig:

The NBA didn't force Dallas coach Avery Johnson into guarding Dwyane Wade with a single player for most of the game.

The NBA didn't force the Mavericks into missing three of four free throws in overtime.

The NBA didn't force Josh Howard into calling a bone-headed timeout in overtime, denying the Mavericks their chance to inbound the ball into any one of their potent scorers with a few seconds left in the game.

(Or, if you believe Avery Johnson ...)

The NBA didn't force Josh Howard into motioning a "time out" signal towards referee Joe DeRosa (as he walked towards the bench, mind you), when a simple "we want a time out after the second free throw" would suffice.

The NBA didn't force Jason Terry into dribbling towards the defensive traffic, after passing up on an open 20-footer, with three seconds left in regulation.

The NBA didn't force Josh Howard (43 percent from deep during the regular season) and Dirk Nowitzki (41 percent) into shooting 0-for-7 from behind the arc in Game 5.

The game isn't fixed. The NBA office, the NBA referees, and its players aren't in on some league-wide secret that force series into running for six or seven games. The game's referees (since the league's inception) give its starts the benefit of the doubt on foul calls -- something about having to make huge decisions involving eyesight, knowledge, and tooting whistles all within a quarter of a second -- but there is no unseemly element at work here.

If the Dallas Mavericks had taken care of business, and put the Heat away when they had the chance, then we wouldn't be discussing the unfortunate call made towards the end of tonight's Game 5. In case you missed it, Dwyane Wade essentially took on each of the Mavericks in the game's final seconds, losing Jason Terry on his way to the basket, crossing over both Devin Harris and Josh Howard before floating up a desperate miss with 1.9 seconds left.

Problem was, referee Bennett Salvatore (owner of one of the quickest ticky-tack whistles in the game), called a foul on Dirk Nowitzki. Nowizki didn't foul him. Devin Harris, who was caught on the right of Wade as he went towards the rim, didn't foul him either. Dwyane Wade wasn't fouled, it was a horrible call, he still stuck both gimmies and the Heat won. Stinks horribly, and I'm sure most impartial NBA fans wanted Wade to miss one so either team could have a chance at a taint-less win in a second overtime, but that's what happens when a team like Dallas (a better team, as most observers would point out) doesn't take the necessary steps toward putting the home team away in crunch time.

So I'm initiating the beg process tout bloody suite: stop the whining before it starts. Appreciate that one referee made a mistake in a game where the refs got a lot wrong, and a lot right (just like the Heat and Mavericks, really). Cut with the conspiracy crap (recall that the Spurs and Pistons have been in the Finals five times combined since 1999), and look forward to Game 6 -- which, as was promised for Game 5, should be a hellacious battle. The Heat are desperate not to have to play a Game 7 on the road, and the Mavs are desperate to keep their season alive.

For a second, let's look back at Game 5:

Why the Heat won: Dwyane Wade, again, would not let his team lose. He continually drove to the hoop against defenders that were either smaller or slower than him, took the contact, and got to the line. In the fourth quarter, he carried his team, overcoming a tiring Miami defense on the other end and a successful Hack-a-Shaq strategy for Dallas. 43 points, three steals, four assists and four rebounds for Dwyane, who only turned the ball over three times in 50 minutes tonight. Also, no matter what happens from here on out, the MVP argument is over. Win or lose, we're looking at the modern-day Jerry West -- only with more potential rings, we hope.

Why the Mavericks lost: Given chance after chance to put the game away in the second half and overtime, they continually clanged shots that would have given them a small buffer to work with. Dirk Nowitzki made an ultra-clutch shot at the end of overtime, but he also gave Dallas their only free throw miss in regulation, and missed several gimmies during the course of the Mavs loss. If Dirk has anywhere near the sort of game he continually gave his team against Memphis, San Antonio, and Phoenix - then the Mavs win in regulation by nine. 20 points and 8 rebounds, over 49 minutes, is not going to win you a championship.

Why the Heat can be confident: Dwyane Wade.

Why the Mavs can't fret: Two games to win, with two games at a building where they've won 41 times on the year.

Trading fours

-- The Mavericks were +12 points in the first half with Marquis Daniels (13 minutes, five points, four assists) in the game. He played dominant defense on Wade, with Dwyane's only made basket coming when Marquis forced him out of bounds, went out to collapse on an open Gary Payton, and Wade snuck back in bounds to gather a pass and dunk it. Daniels' all-around play helped the Mavs take over the game in the second quarter ... and where did he go? When Daniels came in for a couple of token third quarter minutes, Adrian Griffin continued to try and stop Wade, and it was then that Dwyane started to turn it on.

I don't understand it. Daniels lorded over Wade defensively in their one matchup during the regular season, he wouldn't let him make a shot in the first half tonight (their first real pairing since last December, covering five other games), and Avery Johnson continues to call Devin Harris and Adrian Griffin's number when it comes to trying to stop the guy who is now averaging 34.4 points per game during the Finals.

Avery can whine all he wants about Jerry Stackhouse's suspension, the horrid last call tonight, or miscommunication regarding that final timeout - but he's the one who has consistently gone away from his best defensive option on Miami's best player. In a coaching career that has seen him do nearly everything right, this is one wrong thing that could cost him the NBA championship.

-- In the day between Games 5 and 6, try to peel past the pointless pro wrestling-type blather (i.e., the Dallas owner staring down the NBA commissioner from mid-court, class with a capital ugh), the angry message board missives, and the nonsense from the talking heads.

Remember that the Mavericks arrived in Miami with five games to win two, and in turn, their first championship. A week later, they have two games to win those two - after having made precious few successful adjustments along the way. They still have as good a chance as any to win this thing, but the Mavs and Mavs alone are to blame for their goose egg down in Florida.

Comments:

So you are admitting that there was no foul but everything is ok, because of a whistle happy ref. It's not awww-shucks that was a bad call. It is that was terrible, the refs should not decide the game. You say there is no bias, but you look at the foul sheet that shows otherwise. I understand the thought, but when should the refs names ever make the headlines!!!! Answer me that.
Posted: 2:50 AM   by Anonymous
The Mavs shot 84% from the FT line. As a team it's hard to do much better.

Yes they made mistakes. Yes, those cost them.

But no, that game was not officiated fairly. And it wasn't particularly close either.

The Mavericks' mistakes do not excuse the NBA for putting a bad product on the court tonight in terms of officiating. Watching this game tonight reminded me why I lost interest in the NBA. There's no excuse for bad officiating. It too easily affects the game.
So you are admitting that there was no foul but everything is ok, because of a whistle happy ref. It's not awww-shucks that was a bad call. It is that was terrible, the refs should not decide the game. You say there is no bias, but you look at the foul sheet that shows otherwise. I understand the thought, but when should the refs names ever make the headlines!!!! Answer me that.
Posted: 2:51 AM   by Anonymous
So you are admitting that there was no foul but everything is ok, because of a whistle happy ref. It's not awww-shucks that was a bad call. It is that was terrible, the refs should not decide the game. You say there is no bias, but you look at the foul sheet that shows otherwise. I understand the thought, but when should the refs names ever make the headlines!!!! Answer me that.
Good points, Dwyer, except for one crucial mistake: Dwyane Wade was fouled on the final play, although the foul was given by Devin Harris, not Dirk Nowitzki. You can view undeniable proof of the foul by visiting ESPN.com's NBA page where you will see a very clear picture of the final play, showing Wade going up for the shot, with Devin Harris clearly grabbin his arm at the elbow and pulling it down and away. Nowitzki may not have fouled, but Harris certainly did--and it was a much more obvious foul than the very questionable call Nowitzki got in his favor that sent Udonis Haslem home for the night.
Dallas, the better team? Generally the better team doesn't lose three in a row. Also, the Mav's whining has to stop, it's unbearable.
i don't agree with one thing. i think Wade was fouled, not by dirk, but by harris. correct me if im wrong but i think i saw devin harris stick his leg out a bit longer, it certainly looked like a tripping foul on replays. but still, discussing this further is a waste. miami won, one more and we're done
Posted: 3:13 AM   by Anonymous
No foul on the last play? Really? What's this called?

http://i5.tinypic.com/14vmbte.jpg

The call was on the wrong player but a foul WAS committed.
Posted: 3:23 AM   by Adam Madison
Harris fouled him buddy. It's also arguable as to whether Dirk pushed him in the back -- the elbow was extended. The first link is a full video of the play in question; the second is a still photo of Wade being fouled.

http://nelsok.com/images/72102485.gif

http://i5.tinypic.com/14vmbte.jpg

Knee-jerk articles = bad idea.
Posted: 3:34 AM   by Anonymous
Dallas wants to blame everyone else besides themselves for the loss. I think it comes down to this: DIRK MISSED THE FREE THROW THAT WOULD HAVE GIVEN DALLAS THE WIN!!! Wade made his free throws and won the game. It's as simple as that.
Posted: 3:49 AM   by Anonymous
It wasn't a foul. That's a bad angle.

http://www.nba.com/finals2006/20060618/060618_3.html

And even if he did make contact, how can you call that at the end of OT to decide the game? Freakin ridiculous to end the game on a hand check by Dirk.
Posted: 3:54 AM   by Anonymous
http://i5.tinypic.com/14vmbte.jpg

This looks like Harris touched him, but this was DeRosa's angle. Why didn't he call the foul? Why did Salvatore call it from behind Dirk, behind the three-point line? And why did he call it on Dirk?

Looking at the gif, it's from the lone ABC angle that we got to see, I watched it over and over on slo-mo and in real time and never saw a foul. From the camera angle in the photo, we can't tell how much space is between Harris' hand and Dwyane's arm.

Mavs still choked, though.
Posted: 3:57 AM   by Anonymous
The problem here is that the refs obviously didn't see the foul that was committed, since they called a foul on Dirk instead of Harris. Which means that they didn't call a foul because they saw a foul, they called a foul because Wade missed his shot, and heaven forbid he do that.

And to call that contact by Harris a foul, when the refs were swallowing their whistles on the other side of the court, is just ridiculous anyway. Wade's free throw line for the night was identical to the entire Mavericks team, and Heat fans, I hate to burst your bubble, but it wasn't because the Mavericks were the more physical team.
Posted: 3:59 AM   by Mantooth
It was a foul.... Really? If that final Wade drive was a foul, then the final attempt by Terry in regulation was a foul on Wade. If you're gonna call ticky tack fouls, call em both ways. Nowitzki was being man handled all night while the Mavs couldn't even sneeze at Wade without being called for a foul. By the way I started this series rooting for the Heat but the officiating since Bavetta's game 4 heroics for the Heat has put me off.
Posted: 4:16 AM   by Mantooth
Dear Adam Madison,

The 2 dimensional pic does not conclusively show a grab by Harris.

The full video is grimy and confirms replays shown on tv that there was no foul.

If the question is did Harris or Nowitzki touch Wade, the answer is yes. But contact alone does not constitute a foul. If it did, Nowitzki would have gone to the line at least 30 times today.

The Mavs are screwed. They never had a chance. Congratulations David Stern, Stu Jackson, Dick Bavetta & Co. They've been the best Heat players since game 3. Another vintage performance.
Posted: 4:16 AM   by pianomanum
As a Heat fan, I am extremely happy with the outcome. However, as a sports fan, I can comiserate with the Mavs.

I will admit, when I saw Joe Crawford patrolling the court, I got angry. I believe every other Heat game Joe Crawford called this postseason has resulted in a loss for the Heat. I was surprised to see the advantage the referees gave the Heat tonight, albeit it is nowhere near what the Mavs and their fans are crying foul about.

Having said that, look at the pictures posted online. Wade was fouled at the end, plain and simple. I do understand that fans want the game to be decided by the players, not the referees. But Harris directly affected the shot by hacking Wade on the arm. The fact that it was called on Nowitzki is wrong, but that's about it. The timeout was just bad coaching combined with player inexperience. Avery Johnson should not have motioned for the timeout the way he did, and Howard asked for a timeout twice. That's on the Mavs 100%.

Even so, Dwyer is right in saying the Mavs could have put that game away. The same could be said about the Heat; having missed so many foul shots they could have won easily. Dallas goes home now, we'll see how they play.
Posted: 4:20 AM   by Anonymous
If you want to get ticky-tack and call that foul, then how about calling the 3 offensive fouls that Wade made to get there or the backcourt violation? You can't call a touch foul after you let Wade throw half the defense out of the way, literally, after making a clear backcourt violation, and I am a Heat fan from Miami. I am certainly not giving the win back, but what's fair is fair. That was BS. One more to go.
Posted: 4:27 AM   by Jake Bernhard
Given how the Mavs won the series against the Spurs with the questionable calls all seeming to go their way (rewatch the end of game 3 and the end of regulation in game 7), I've got no sympathy for them right now. Another thought: hold Wade to fewer than 40 if you really want that win.
Posted: 4:48 AM   by Anonymous
Actually, if you look at a replay of the last play before the free throws by Dwyane Wade, Devin Harris fouled him. It wasn't Nowitzki. So the call wasn't wrong by the refs, the Mavs just made a stupid mistake. And anyways, the Mavs don't deserve to win this series if they have to resort to the Hack-a-Shaq method. Resorting to HaS shows that they don't have any other way to stop Shaq and the team.
Posted: 4:51 AM   by Anonymous
Wow. Got your marching orders from league HQ, did you?

Yes, of course. It's never the ref's fault.
Posted: 5:10 AM   by Anonymous
why can't the LOSERS accept losing??
Posted: 5:11 AM   by Anonymous
"Stinks horribly, and I'm sure most impartial NBA fans wanted Wade to miss one so either team could have a chance at a taint-less win in a second overtime"

I dunno, this Hawks fan (yeah, I know) wants the series to be over in six to end the unbearable whining.
Posted: 5:34 AM   by JC - From LA
Dwyer, you must be BLIND AS A BAT!! I am a Lakers fan and I could see that Foul, as clear as day!! (as ANY idiot could SEE this, from ESPN and the prior post that show both picts and video).

Mind you, it was not a major/flagrant as it was with Shaq the night before, but it WAS indeed a foul nevertheless.

Hey Dwyer, if you want to say you are a Dallas sympathizer then JUST SAY IT! (and not try to hoodwink us with your anti-Miami bent & writing). If this is not the case then JUST BUY SOME [VERY STRONG] GLASSES - FAST!!!

From: An Outside [series] Basketball Observer (Again, a Lakers Fan)
Posted: 5:40 AM   by Anonymous
Um, Mr. Dwyer, go to ESPN's Finals page and check out the photo. Some "horrible call", eh? The pic shows Harris raking Wade across the arm. It doesn't show Dirk shoving him on the hip which also occurred.

How about you use the space in your column which you devoted to falsely stating that Wade wasn't fouled to criticizing Avery Johnson for employing Hack-a-Shaq. Some coaches you expect that kind of classlessness from, but I thought the General was better than that.
Posted: 5:49 AM   by Anonymous
Dallas, the better team? They could be, but Miami has D.Wade.
Posted: 5:55 AM   by Anonymous
As a Miami fan in Dallas, I'm faced with the task of walking into work tomorrow and sheepishly apologizing for stealing a crucial 5th game. How can you take joy or pride in overcoming another 2nd half deficit when the officiating was so one-sided?
Every year we watch the playoffs and every year we're reminded of how much more the NBA resembles the WCW. While I don't believe that the games are completely fixed, it's hard not to believe that certain games are officiated to give a distinct advantage to one team over another.
I'd like to thank the officials for taking all the joy out of a herculean effort put forth by Wade.
Posted: 7:19 AM   by Randy S
Yes, the foul was on the wrong person but there was a foul and I have seen the refs call it both ways. The bottom line is the the team that wanted it more won the game. Wade didn't wait for the game to come to him. He took it to the mavericks. The Heat were in the position they were in because they continued to be agressive and fought bottom line. The mavericks crying and questioning officals is a cop out. Take a look in the mirror and acknowledge the many , many mistakes you made first. It is easy to blame your loss on referees, show some class give the heat credit and find out why
A) Wade wasn't doubled most of the game
B) daniels, your best defender on wade, was used sparingly
C) your superstar Nowitski seemed passive in streches.
Posted: 7:20 AM   by JCJones
Wade stepped into the backcourt as he received the ball on that final play. He also pushed off on Jason Terry. For those of you saying Wade was fouled by Harris, have you ever seen an NBA Finals game determined by such a weak foul? Sure, Harris did gently touch Wade, but neither enough to alter his shot nor enough to warrant a foul call with 1.9 seconds remaining in the most pivital game of a tied NBA Finals series. Lastly, Wade set the NBA record for most free throws made in an NBA Finals game and broke the previous record by over three free throws...the last two of which, at the very least, were excessive.
Posted: 7:24 AM   by Randy S
Adam madison, great picture

http://i5.tinypic.com/14vmbte.jpg

This still shot clearly shows how Wade's shot was affected when harris grabbed his arm.
Posted: 7:28 AM   by Anonymous
Wade was fouled, not by Dirk, by Harris. Stop crying, your team blew it!

Go home and win and all your crying can stop.
Posted: 7:54 AM   by Jason
As always there are mistakes in officiating and the losing team finds them unacceptable while the winning team doesn't mind them at all. Didn't similar calls help Dallas get past San Antonio in the recent past? Mark Cuban sure didn't complain about those.
Posted: 8:07 AM   by Anonymous
25 free throws for the whole Mavs team and WADE gets that amount just by himself? And you call that fair?? and you tell us that there is no conspiracy against the Mavs? I am not a Mavs fan but what I saw from Game 5 is really revolting. If you admit that the referee made a mistake, and that he has a reputation for doing that, then why doesn't the NBA fire him? WHY?
Posted: 8:13 AM   by L Schiller
Why didn't Dallas call a timeout after the 2nd foul shot with 1.9 seconds to go and accept the technical foul to advance the ball to half court.

Down 1 or 2 with 1.9 seconds to go isn't that big of difference and at least if you take the timeout you have advanced the ball 50 feet. Dallas down one had almost no chance of scoring from the endline but down two in the front court it would have had a better chance to tie or win the game.

The logic worked for Phoenix in the 1976 NBA Finals in forcing the 3rd OT in game 5 in a similar spot
Posted: 8:16 AM   by Anonymous
There's no problem that one team should have easily been up by 20 since they had almost 50 free throws. Dallas only had 15 midway through the 4th quarter. The referees will really quick to say that was a time out even though the player was talking to his coach. Shaq Throws an elbow in the face of a Dallas player, but it's called a foul on Dallas. This is why the NBA is such a joke. The officials do way to much to determine the outcome of the games. Unfortenately for this season that leaque and the officials are doing a lot to determine who wins this series.
Posted: 8:20 AM   by Anonymous
Wade is unreal...I just can't say anything more about him than that. This series will, however, get more interesting when Stackhouse returns...
Shaq: Please arrive in Game 6 or Game 7 if necessary. 2-for-14 or whatever you shot from the FT line is killing your team.
Posted: 11:22 AM   by Anonymous
This is twice now that the Mavs have had the game in hand, and let it slip away. They settle for jumpers (contested ones), and everyone seems scared to take the big shot. D. Wade is given far too much "Jordanizing" by the NBA and the referees at this point in his career. However, at the end of the game, he makes things happen. He wants the ball. (Winners always do, like they say in the movie Replacements). Until the Mavs start driving to the hoop at the end of games, the free throws will continue to be very one-sided in Miami's favor...and the Mavs will continue to choke when their shots stop falling. Miami in six.
Posted: 12:21 PM   by Anonymous
Total fouls by Dallas= 38 minus 15 committed by Diop, Mbenga, and Dampier primarily on Shaq=23

Total fouls by Miami=25

You can't employ fouls as a strategy then complain when you get called for more fouls.
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