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NBA FINALS GAME 5: Specific Calls by the Officials

by Roland Beech, Founder 82games.com

NBA Game 5 Official Bennett Salvatore NBA Finals Game 5 Ref Joe Crawford NBA Finals Official Joe DeRosa The first part of this article, complete with the summarized stats can be seen at Game 5 Officiating Stats.

This page features the detailed breakouts and evaluation of every call and non-call I deemed worthy of mentioning.

Some 94 plays in all, including a few intentional "Hack-a-Shaq" fouls!


First Quarter
Worth mentioning: AFB = "away from ball" and HB = "Hubie Brown" when followed with a quote. Calls/No-Calls that were rated as maybe/dubious/very dubious are highlighted.

Play & Action
Right Call?
Salvatore 11:43 0-0 MIA: Walker turnover - bad pass DAL yes
Crawford 10:57 2-0 DAL: Howard foul - loose MIA prob
DeRosa 10:41 2-0 MIA: Wade shot - jump miss DAL prob NO CALL: some light contact
Crawford 10:36 2-0 MIA: Walker foul - shooting DAL yes
Salvatore 10:09 4-3 DAL: Terry turnover - palming MIA dubious seldom called
Crawford 9:41 4-3 MIA: Haslem foul - personal DAL prob setting up in post
Salvatore 9:19 6-3 MIA: O'Neal foul - offensive DAL yes
Salvatore 8:31 9-3 DAL: Diop foul - personal MIA yes
Salvatore 8:02 9-5 MIA: Walker foul - offensive DAL prob HB: "close call, you can see they are not allowing contact"
Salvatore 7:22 11-5 DAL: Diop foul - shooting MIA prob hard to see
Salvatore 7:06 11-7 MIA: Team rebound - def layup MIA maybe Hard to tell who tipped it out
Salvatore 6:26 11-9 MIA: Haslem foul - personal DAL prob light contact AFB, not always called
Salvatore 5:49 11-9 DAL: Dampier foul - personal MIA prob calling it strict
Salvatore 3:50 15-17 MIA: O'Neal turnover - travel DAL prob from a-far! DeRosa no whistle on baseline
Salvatore 3:33 15-17 DAL: Dampier turnover - travel MIA v.dubious Ref claims no Shaq block? Some complaining, HB says "definitely see he got the ball up high" = wrong call!
Salvatore 2:50 15-19 DAL: Dampier foul - personal MIA prob #17 also on the call?
DeRosa 2:19 17-19 DAL: Griffin foul - shooting MIA yes wrong guy whistled, griffin on the dbl/help, mbenga more contact
Crawford 1:59 17-22 MIA: Wade foul - personal DAL yes reach-in
DeRosa 1:28 17-22 DAL: Mbenga foul - shooting MIA yes HB: "no question about that, inside the def. Circle"
DeRosa 1:11 17-23 MIA: Posey foul - personal DAL maybe blocking foul on flop, HB: "From this angle that was an offensive foul"
DeRosa 0:53 19-23 MIA: Wade turnover - bad pass DAL prob NO CALL: Wade looking for contact before the pass
DeRosa 0:18 21-23 DAL: Mbenga foul - personal MIA maybe Harris complains Mourning traveled, looked that way, but contact too

Analysis: the refs were calling it tight at the start, perhaps in part as a result of the flagrant foul at the end of game four (wanting to keep things under control, etc). Salvatore in particular was quick on the whistle, with twelve calls in the first nine minutes roughly, to Crawford's two (and one no-call) and DeRosa's zero!

Overall there were only five questionable calls to my mind, but four of the five in favor of Miami. Only two calls rated as "dubious" or "very dubious" -- a palming violation is rarely called (we'll bring this up again later), and then Dampier had the ball in the low left blocks, went up for a shot that was seemingly blocked by Shaquille (note Hubie Brown's comment on seeing the replay) and after he gathered it back in he was unfairly called for a travel. Of course seeing it in slow motion is a little different than having to call it live!

Three offensive fouls on Miami provided balance though, so overall not a badly officiated quarter, but perhaps a little needlessly tight.

Second Quarter

Play & Action
Right Call?
Crawford 10:36 21-24 MIA: Payton foul - shooting DAL yes
Salvatore 10:23 23-24 DAL: Van Horn foul - loose MIA prob
DeRo./Craw. 9:35 23-28 DAL: Van Horn foul - shooting MIA prob Wrapped up, but treated as in act of shooting. Breen: "I don't think that should have been in the act...he had his arms wrapped around him as he was catching the ball." ME = cheap foul should allow continuation
Crawford 9:24 23-28 MIA: Walker foul - shooting DAL maybe hard contact, some level of leaning in though
Crawford 7:45 27-30 DAL: Terry foul - shooting MIA yes lots of bumping/backing down behind the 3-pt line uncalled, foul after the release
Crawford 6:38 30-33 MIA: Posey foul - personal DAL yes
Salvatore 6:36 30-33 DAL: Terry turnover - lost MIA prob some contact while dribbling before the swipe that knocked ball off Terry OB
DeRo./Craw. 6:23 30-33 DAL: Daniels foul - shooting MIA yes obvious kind of bump, not set
Crawford 6:09 30-34 DAL: Terry turnover - lost MIA yes
DeRo./Salv. 5:01 34-34 DAL: Daniels foul - shooting MIA yes fake, daniels in air, steps in
DeRosa 1:44 45-38 DAL: Dampier foul - shooting MIA yes
Crawford 1:00 48-40 MIA: Wade shot - jump miss DAL prob NO CALL: Wade wanted foul after release by Diop
DeRosa 0:53 50-40 MIA: Haslem foul - shooting DAL prob and one -- bodied him…
DeRosa 0:39 51-40 MIA: Wade shot - layup miss DAL yes NO CALL: minor bumping by Daniels, good nocall

Analysis: whereas the first quarter featured nine personal/loose ball fouls, three offensive fouls, and three ball violations (travels, palming)...the second quarter had few whistles other than shooting fouls. Indeed there were only two personal/loose ball fouls!

Did the players clean up their act, or did the officials relax the standards?

Either way, I only noted one questionable call, when Josh Howard after collecting an offensive rebound basically went right into Walker on the way back up with Walker being called for a foul.

Overall then this quarter to my mind was officiated very well. Wade did complain after a couple of no-calls on missed shots, but they seemed to have minor contact.

Third Quarter

Play & Action
Right Call?
Crawford 10:16 55-46 MIA: awarded ball after goes OB MIA prob deflected out by either Walker/Terry, can't see, little complaining?
DeRosa 9:40 55-46 DAL: Harris shot - layup miss MIA v.dubious NO CALL: Breen - "Lots of contact, Harris looking for a foul" Wade cleary bodies Harris significantly
Salvatore 9:32 55-46 DAL: Diop foul - shooting MIA prob can't see, some contact, Wade to floor
DeRosa 9:06 55-47 DAL: Diop foul - personal MIA YES wrapped up, intentional
DeRosa 8:39 55-49 DAL: Harris shot - layup miss MIA dubious NO CALL: drives at shaq, body contact, shaq inside circle. Hubie on Mavs bench after the next play: "They felt he was definitely hit, below the number with Shaq's body and there was a no call, at the other end they were very heated. Anyone in that same situation would do the same thing"
Salvatore 8:31 55-49 DAL: Nowitzki foul - shooting MIA maybe Avery+Dirk no likey…Dirk blocks shot, hits after the block?
Salvatore 8:31 55-49 DAL: Johnson t-foul - offensive MIA
DeRosa 7:17 57-50 MIA: Haslem foul - offensive DAL prob can't see totally, looks like Howard had position, HB: "Haslem lowered his shoulder"
Crawford 6:47 59-50 DAL: Dampier foul - shooting MIA yes some arm contact
Salvatore 6:42 59-52 DAL: Nowitzki foul - shooting MIA yes and one -- attempt to wrap up fails
Crawford 6:13 61-53 DAL: Mbenga foul - personal MIA yes DAL not wanting to allow Shaq the shot
DeRo./Salv. 5:51 61-54 DAL: Griffin foul - personal MIA prob contact, Wade falls away, can't see, no replay…AFB
Salvatore 5:15 63-54 DAL: Griffin foul - personal MIA maybe Away From Ball moving between Walker/Howard…Griffin some holding, Howard hit in face by Wade. Breen: "(Wade) got his side in on that one, that's for sure"
Salvatore 4:51 63-56 DAL: Howard foul - loose MIA yes loose ball on floor, Posey got first
Salvatore 4:34 63-58 DAL: Nowitzki foul - shooting MIA yes hit twice, hard foul
DeRosa 3:55 65-59 MIA: O'Neal shot - dunk good MIA prob NO CALL: Shaq push off on Mbenga…
DeRosa 3:30 65-61 DAL: Daniels shot - jump good DAL prob NO CALL: Daniels with some forearm push on Wade
DeRosa 2:37 69-61 MIA: Walker shot - layup good MIA prob NO CALL: lots of contact both ways: Howard/Walker. HB: "prime time move by a 20 pt scorer: you can see he used his body all the way…he just took his shoulder right into that defender"
Crawford 2:24 69-63 MIA: Williams foul - personal DAL yes bump on dribble: 'only the first team foul for the Heat here in the third…'
Crawford 1:35 71-63 DAL: Mbenga foul - offensive MIA maybe AFB on curl screen…third on play by Mbenga…not usually called, right in front of Crawford. Hubie "yeah there's no need for Mbenga to do that, just stay there". Moved one foot over, steady before contact on the 'slide'
Salvatore 1:07 71-65 DAL: Daniels shot - jump miss MIA prob NO CALL: hard to see, minor contact perhaps only on drive
Salvatore 0:37 71-67 DAL: Daniels foul - offensive MIA prob Daniels drives into Posey flop, somewhat there but maybe not completely (sliding left leg at contact)
Crawford 0:11 71-70 MIA: Posey foul - personal DAL yes Hubie "put the hand on yeah, not going to let him hand check and then try to ride him'

Analysis: this quarter was not well officiated to my eyes, with five questionable calls, all in favor of Miami. Early in the quarter the Mavs got upset after Harris received no shooting foul call after twice drawing heavy contact on shots after driving to the hoop.

After the second one, Nowitzki was called for a foul on what may have been a clean block prompting the outrage and the ensuing technical.

Interestingly DeRosa was the official closest to the action on both of the Harris miss "non calls" and DeRosa in general seemed to be calling a 'loose' game in contrast to Salvatore's tight one.

In addition Griffin was called for two 'away from ball' personals on Wade that led to four free throws. The first you can't see much from the broadcast angle (no replay shown) but the second featured a hard elbow from Wade to Howard's face in what was a lot of contact.

Finally the call on Mbenga for a moving screen seems to be another clear example of selective enforcement since most screens set have a fair amount of moving...funny they would pick on DJ Mbenga don't you think, and not Shaq or Dirk?

The officiating in this quarter had a role certainly in Miami coming back from the halftime deficit to be down just one going into the fourth: Seven personal/loose ball fouls called, with three offensive fouls marked a return to the tight enforcement of the first quarter as opposed to the free flowing game of the second one.

Fourth Quarter

Play & Action
Right Call?
Crawford 10:49 71-72 MIA: O'Neal foul - shooting DAL yes Hubie: "Now I'm happy for the young man (Harris) because he's going to get to the foul line…he's been able to drive the basketball, he's missed a couple where he was slightly bumped where you want the call, but in this game on the drive you're not getting the call'
Salvatore 9:29 73-74 MIA: O'Neal foul - personal DAL yes clearly bumped by Shaq
Crawford 9:19 73-74 MIA: Payton ill def - foul DAL yes
DeRosa 9:11 74-74 DAL: Terry turnover - travel MIA yes some foot shuffling
DeRosa 8:02 77-74 DAL: Diop foul - loose MIA yes holding down arm, etc on Shaq
Salvatore 7:52 77-74 DAL: Dampier foul - personal MIA yes AFB…damp pushing, grabbing shaq
Salvatore 7:16 77-74 DAL: Team turnover - 24 secs MIA maybe NO CALL: Dirk in corner behind 3-pt line, shaq clearly bumps him, crowds with body and then bumps again on dribble
DeRosa 6:59 77-74 MIA: O'Neal turnover - bad pass DAL yes dirk with hassle of shaq, some contact, OB off wade is right
Salvatore 6:29 79-74 DAL: Harris foul - shooting MIA yes wade leans in on move but Harris came across line…wasn't shooting but threw it up at whistle (Good play Wade!)
Crawford 6:18 79-76 MIA: Payton foul - personal DAL dubious couldn't see well.. AFB coming round Dirk curl screen, kicked…if anything Dirk moving screen
Salvatore 5:47 79-76 DAL: Howard foul - shooting MIA yes fake, got Howard in air, steps in draw contact
Salvatore 5:06 79-78 MIA: O'Neal shot - hook miss MIA maybe NO CALL: Shaq just pushes Diop down backing in on post
Crawford 5:05 79-78 MIA: Haslem foul - loose DAL yes HB "an easy call because Haslem came up right over the top of him"
Salvatore 4:48 79-78 MIA: Payton foul - shooting DAL yes payton hit him on arm
DeRosa 4:44 81-78 DAL: Terry foul - personal INTFOUL
DeRosa 3:24 85-82 MIA: Payton foul - shooting DAL yes and one
DeRosa 3:08 86-82 DAL: Howard foul - personal MIA maybe minor bump, but pales to Shaq on Dirk in corner! Wade pushed off Harris before Howard contact!
Crawford 2:44 86-84 DAL: Diop foul - personal INTFOUL
Crawford 2:44 86-84 MIA: O'Neal free throw - 2of2 miss ? LANE VIOLATION: Haslem got off reb on miss…but Dirk whistled
Salvatore 2:25 86-84 MIA: Posey foul - personal DAL prob a bump, but not a major one…
DeRosa 2:16 88-86 DAL: Harris foul - shooting MIA prob and one some bumping by Harris, some pushoff by Wade
DeRo./Craw. 1:26 88-89 MIA: Walker foul - shooting DAL yes Hubie: "Dirk just goes strong, he goes right inside, he gets hit by two guys so you know that was an easy call"
Crawford 0:02 93-91 MIA: Wade shot - jump good MIA yes NO CALL: Griffin tries to draw off foul, no call…definite lean in by Wade, but also tangling arms by Griffin…good no call

Analysis: four questionable calls, with three in favor of Miami but overall not too bad a quarter in what was becoming quite a physical battle.

Six personal/loose ball fouls, not counting the two intentional Hack-a-Shaq moments. One bizarre lane violation play.

Harris finally got a call in the early going of the quarter, prompting Hubie's little speech, but not exactly a "make up call" for the third quarter botched plays by the refs.

Wade's game-tying shot did feature quite a bit of contact on both sides, but seemed like a good enough no-call to my mind.


Play & Action
Right Call?
DeRosa 3:58 93-95 MIA: Haslem foul - loose DAL yes Hubie: "oh yeah he hit him, he just hit him right there with a forearm and Joey Crawford right on that"
Salvatore 3:18 93-95 MIA: Posey foul - shooting DAL yes Terry coast to coast gets hammered'
Crawford 3:14 95-95 DAL: Harris foul - personal INTFOUL
Salvatore 2:42 95-97 DAL: Team rebound - off jump DAL maybe Breen: "Oh that's close, it looked like Wade touched it last" Hubie: "ah, that was an iffy that was a coin toss" (after replay in slow mo)
Crawford 2:14 97-97 DAL: Harris foul - personal INTFOUL
Crawford 1:59 97-97 MIA: Wade shot - jump miss DAL prob NO CALL: dbl tmed in corner, HB "defense was outstanding" and after replay "terrific defense"
Crawford 1:41 97-97 MIA: O'Neal foul - shooting DAL yes a bump, but not a major one…
Crawford 1:29 98-97 DAL: Harris foul - personal MIA yes Hubie "Howard sets up and boom both guys were moving…yeah he got hit"
Salv./Craw. 1:15 98-97 MIA: Walker shot - jump miss DAL maybe NO CALL: Walker into paint, flop by Harris, but Harris moving (wade gets call?)
DeRosa 0:54 98-97 MIA: O'Neal foul - shooting DAL yes Hubie "he just puts that floater up there and takes the hit"
Salvatore 0:01 100-99 DAL: Nowitzki foul - shooting MIA v.dubious Hubie "now that was an incredible situation, mainly because he was able to keep his dribble…he almost goes down all right and now as he splits through he gets caught on the leg of Devin Harris"…Breen "they call the foul on Nowitzki"... Hubie "oh boy…ha ha ha ha!" --- off foul into terry, palming...touch foul called by #15 at 3pt line, Joey underneath no call...
DeRosa 0:01 100-100 DAL: Team timeout - reg MIA prob "joey derosa calls time out, salvatore waving it off' -- looks like Howard did call it, since Avery reacted so strongly, but very hard to tell from broadcast video

Analysis: Ah, the overtime spectacular.

There were only three questionable calls to my mind (I rated the weird timeout between free throws as a 'probably' since there's no way you can tell from the broadcast with any certainty what really went down), and two of the three were actually in favor of Dallas.

A ball knocked out of bounds that was pure "coin toss" territory according to Hubie went to the Mavs, and Walker got hit by a flopping Harris without a call on a missed shot. Of course, it's the third play which really mattered, and unfortunately could hardly be deemed anything but a disastrous call overall by the officials. Let's set the stage:

Wade gets the ball with 9 seconds left, down by one. Ultimate outcome was a shooting foul leading to the two game winning free throws. If we want to be nitpicky about it, there are numberous problems though along the way...

  • [Edit] I've been informed that by the rules there is no possible backcourt violation since a player can take off in the front court and land in the backcourt without a violation...
  • offensive foul / personal foul on Terry? now there's no way to tell from the broadcast footage whether it was an offensive foul as Dallas claims, and the network never showed a replay of this part of the play, but Wade does appear to barrel into a moving Terry, leading with his arm, and knocking him all the way off the court. A no-call from Salvatore who was right there, which is odd in light of what happens moments later! A foul called on Terry would still have given Wade the two free throws, but Dallas would have had something like seven seconds to come up with a shot of their own in answer. An offensive foul would not have ended the game since Miami would foul and even if Dallas hits both free throws, the Heat have a chance to tie.
  • Wade grabs Howard? as Dwyane dribbles into the corner, if you watch in slow motion from the closeup baseline angle replay it sure seems like as he changes direction back to the wing he yanks Howard's shorts sending him towards the baseline. This one is certainly weak evidence without better camera angles.
  • palming/carrying the ball? from the corner Wade suddenly changes direction and in the process of transfering the ball from his right to left hand, it certainly appears his left hand goes under the ball, lifting it up and over (remember the Jason Terry call in the first quarter)
  • shooting foul called on Nowitzki? the defining moment of this play to me is when Hubie Brown is informed that Nowitzki has been called for the foul..."Oh boy!...Ha ha ha ha (loud laughter)". It's probably not a good sign that the ref got it right when a veteran NBA coach and analyst like Hubie, who has just seen the play in closeup and slow motion, laughs at the call!
  • Salvatore calls the foul? that's right, it's not Joey Crawford down on the baseline, who didn't see anything worthy of a whistle even though the play was right in front of him...it's Bennett who is deciding the game from near halfcourt! This is of course AFTER he goes with the no-call on the huge contact between Terry and Wade that happened literally five feet in front of him.
Yes Wade may have run into Harris' leg, but on the other hand Wade also pushes Harris away with his left hand prior to that contact.

There are obviously tough calls for the Refs to make, and interestingly in game seven of Mavericks-Spurs, at the end of regulation when San Antonio could have won there appeared to be some contact by Dirk on Duncan. Afterwards though Duncan espoused the "let the players decide it" view rather than having a touch foul by an official be the ultimate arbiter...and he was on the losing end!

Was it a travesty, this call that turned out to be monumental? Without seeing every angle, maybe we should give some benefit of the doubt to the refs, but in my view a no-call throughout or a whistle one way or the other on the Terry/Wade contact should have been the proper verdict.

Game five of the Spurs-Pistons 2004-05 Finals was also a classic, remembered for Horry's clutch three-pointer. We can probably all agree at least on just how much nicer it is to have a clean "player decided" outcome, than what we saw here.

Alternative evaluations welcomed!

So that's my take on the officiating at the specific play level, but perhaps you saw it different? Send in your comments, including any disagreements with my judgement...with enough responses we could truly develop a confidence scale grading of the specific calls! How would you call it?

Now...return back to the Game 5 officiating summary stats

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