Were the two calls at the end of the Heat/Pacers game last night fair?

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For those who did not get to watch either the game or the highlights of last night’s contest between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, you missed a lot. Indiana was able to overcome their no-show of a game three and edge Miami in game four 99-92, but not without controversy. 

There were two important calls that were being debated this morning, with the first involving LeBron James fouling out. With just under a minute remaining in the final quarter, James set a screen at the top of the key for Dwayne Wade, but was called for an offensive foul for tripping the Pacers’ Lance Stephenson. I don’t think there is a question as to whether or not LeBron committed a foul by definition, but the situation is what really needs to be considered. It’s game four. There is under a minute left. The Heat are down four points with the ball. It’s the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.

I do not like the Miami Heat at all. But my opinion on that play is that a foul should not have been called. As much as I liked to see Indiana win, LeBron should not have been thrown out of the game. He had just hit a huge three-pointer, and I thought that Miami was going to win the game as long as he was in. The referees changed the direction of the game, and ultimately the outcome, with that play.

Even though James was gone, the Heat were still not done. The difference was still four on the Heat’s next offensive possession when Mario Chalmers handed the ball off to Dwayne Wade. At this point, there was about 30 seconds in the game. Wade took a dribble going towards the hoop then stepped back before passing the ball off to Shane Battier, who knocked down a three. The problem is that the shot was waved off because Wade was called for a travel. The stepback did look awkward because it was a little more drawn out than most stepbacks, but, once again, the referees got this call wrong. The truth is that it was not a travel at all. And, once again, the refs should have considered the situation. Traveling is the most common no-call in the NBA. The game would have been down 96-95 and the Heat would have had a shot to either tie or win the game.

I think that the referees definitely changed the outcome of the game, and I also think that the referees should be talked to by the Director of Officials because the refs swallow the whistle on those two plays more than nine times out of ten.

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What the Grizzlies need to do to save the series

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This picture best explains the first two games of the Western Conference Finals for the Memphis Grizzlies. Game one resulted in a 105-83 throbbing at the hands of their opponent, the San Antonio Spurs. In game two, the Grizzlies were able to scratch and claw their way into overtime, where they eventually lost after only scoring four points in the extra period.

The series is now going to Memphis, where the Grizzlies need to defend their home court in order to stay alive in the series. Although they are down 2-0 to an experienced San Antonio squad, there is not much that they need to fix.

Defense.

Now, it seems like this is a big problem because “defense” covers many smaller factors. But, these are the Memphis Grizzlies, a team that has made their name off of playing gritty defense. This season, they allowed the fewest points per game with an impressive 89.3 per contest. Also, they allowed the third-lowest field goal percentage during the regular season, holding opponents to an average shooting percentage of just 43.5% per game. In the two games this series, Memphis has given up an average of 99 points per game, while allowing the Spurs to shoot 48% from the field.

Numbers like these would lead one to believe that this cannot be fixed, but they showed their true colors in the fourth quarter this past Tuesday night. They held the Spurs to just nine points in the fourth quarter, and to just two points in the final 8:14 of the game. The Spurs turned the ball over, while Memphis capitalized on almost every one. This was the real Grizzlies team that we had not seen for the first nearly seven quarters of the series.

Tony Allen received the most points in all-NBA defense voting this year, while guard Mike Conley made the all-NBA defensive team along with center Marc Gasol, who was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year this season. There is plenty of defensive talent on this roster, it is just a matter of Memphis really focusing on shutting down the Spurs.

The question is, will they? We will see in about five hours.