The Clippers knew that they’d be in for a battle after they throttled the Warriors in game 2 by 40 points. The Warriors put together a simple gameplan that would be easily executed so they wouldn’t tally up 26 turnovers like they did in the previous game.
This game came down to the wire. Blake Griffin was huge throghout the game and especially in the third quarter where the Warriors made a big push to try to get back in the game. Griffin finished with 32 points in the game and destroyed the Warriors in the post when they tried to guard him one on one.
This game came down to the wire. Curry finished with only 16 points and had 15 assists, but he hit two big three pointers leading up to the final minute of the game. Then the Warriors fouled Chris Paul with the game at 97-96 and he missed one. The Warriors had the best three point shooter in the league and a chance to go for the win. That’s exactly what they did.
The Warriors ran this final SLOB play to close out the game. This was a controversial play on the social network last night because people were wondering if Stephen Curry was fouled on his final free throw attempt. Chris Paul gets into Curry on the shot attempt with his forearm here.
Some were questioning why Curry didn’t drive to his right side because Paul overplayed him off of the screen. Paul’s momentum when coming off of the final Jermaine O’Neal screen off of two consecutive pindown screens. Curry clearly had the lane there.
But, as you can see, Deandre Jordan is right there waiting for Curry’s drive attempt. He’d be able to come up and contest a jump shot with his length, even if Curry chooses to pull up for the long two. Now, the Warriors would probably have an offensive rebounding advantage if Curry can just get the ball on the rim, but I assure you he wasn’t thinking about that.
The play was called for Curry to get the best look that he could possibly get. He didn’t really think that he could get it against Deandre Jordan and that’s probably why he didn’t just take the open driving lane available to him.
The reason why Jordan sagged back on the play when Curry came off of the screen? He adjusted because he already saw this play just a minute before this. The Warriors ran this play initially when the Clippers had a foul to give in the situation.
Here, Jordan comes out and gives the foul, but he realizes that if he does that again then Jermaine O’Neal will have a clear lane to the basket if Curry can get it to him on the pass. I’m not sure why Mark Jackson would give the Clippers the same look two times in a row, but that’s what happened. They didn’t make the Clippers think harder about what they were doing and that’s crucial in late game situations.
Paul gets through the Lee and O’neal screens and finds himself one on one with Curry at the top of the arch. Curry dribbles around a bit, tries to penetrate against Paul but it doesn’t work. He steps back and goes for the three point attempt.
Paul clearly gets Curry with his forearm there. As a shooter, you are allowed enough space to take your shot, release the ball cleanly and then land again. Paul is crowding Curry here, but when he sticks him with the forearm he’s still straight up. That’s key to this situation and especially this no-call–Curry is still straight up when Paul’s forearm touches him.
This can be looked at as incidental contact by the officials because Curry’s form hasn’t changed and he still has room to land. The NBA rulebook, in rule 12-letter B, section I-number 5, states that incidental contact with the hand against an offensive player shall be ignored if it does not affect the player’s speed, quickness, balance and/or rhythm.
Now, in the screenshot above, Curry’s form is still pretty solid as the ball leaves his hands. It’s after the fact that he kicks his legs up. Even if the officials see that, they’d probably assume that it was a flop because of how solid his form was before hand. You can make the argument that Curry didn’t really have room to land here, but because of the leg kick he wasn’t going to the benefit of the doubt.
The officials didn’t want to make a potential game changing call at that moment on something that they weren’t completely confident on and that’s something we should understand. The officials have had a subpar NBA playoffs thus far, but I think this was one of their better moments after looking at the play on the tape.
Maybe Curry really was fouled there–maybe the contact wasn’t exaggerated. But it just wasn’t authentic enough for the officials to make that call there. This happens all the time in the NBA and this wasn’t the call that made the game. The Warriors had plenty of other opportunity to take a lead against the Clippers. Next time, they need to be sure to take advantage of that.