In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks found themselves in an early 0-1 series deficit to the scrappy Miami Heat. The Heat, led in Game 1 by their established superstar Jimmy Butler, were determined to prove to the NBA world that their win in the opener was no fluke.
While Butler would be held to a rather pedestrian 13 points in 36 minutes of play, it would be veteran point guard Goran Dragic who would take on the offensive burden, adding 23 points on 4-for-8 shooting from 3-point range. Dragic and rookie Tyler Herro would stand out in the Game 2 grudge match.
While Dragic was the high point man for the Heat in that game, it was his actions in the final minutes of the fourth quarter that would be remembered the most. The Heat led the majority of the game, only relinquishing the lead twice. That said, Miami was put in a crucial moment in the final minute.
With 7.7 seconds remaining in the game, the Heat led 114-111 over Milwaukee. With the Bucks in possession, all-star sharpshooter Khris Middleton heaved up a 3-pointer in hopes of tying the game and potentially forcing overtime. Middleton’s shot would rim out; however, this play would be overshadowed by one of the most controversial foul calls in recent memory. Middleton is fouled on his 3-point shot by Goran Dragic, and chaos ensues.
By popular opinion, Dragic did not commit a foul on Middleton, but referee Marc Davis and ESPN expert Steve Javie would say otherwise and Middleton was headed to the foul line. Middleton would nail all three foul shots to knot the game up at 114. What would happen next in the final 3.3 seconds of the game would enrage many Milwaukee Bucks fans.
After Middleton’s three consecutive free throws, the Heat would call their final timeout, advancing the ball to half court. The underperforming Jimmy Butler would get the final shot. Not unlike Middleton’s 3-pointer, Butler’s shot would rim out. But once again, referee Marc Davis was quick to blow the whistle. Davis calls a shooting foul on Antetokounmpo. The foul was called according to Javie, for “intruding on Butler’s landing space” after his shot, whatever that means.
“I feel like, personally, it was right play,” Antetokounmpo said with no ill will toward referee Davis for making the call. https://www.espn.com/nba/recap?gameId=401241766
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer also chimed in on the call, adding “In the judgement of the officials, there was enough to warrant a foul. ” https://www.espn.com/nba/recap?gameId=401241766
However you see the overzealous foul calls, the underestimated Miami Heat are no just two wins away from reaching the NBA Finals, currently leading the Boston Celtics two games to one in the Eastern Conference Finals. Personally, I believe the referees are a little too quick to blow the whistle in today’s NBA, but the game is changing by the minute and fans will have to adapt.