During the Christmas Day clash between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, the controversial officiating took center stage, rather than the array of NBA stars that were featured on the court.
The Warriors came out on top at Oracle Arena against the Cavaliers on Monday in a rematch of the past three NBA Finals, winning the game 99-92, but the game will be remembered for what happened in the final moments.
In the final seconds, Golden State's Kevin Durant escaped several defensive sequences without the game being stopped for him fouling Cleveland's LeBron James. This ultimately allowed him and his team to achieve win 27 on the season so far.
The NBA later admitted in their “Last Two Minute Report” on Tuesday evening that James was in fact fouled by Durant on two of his crucial drives to the basket in the final two minutes of regulation. If these fouls were changed, it would have changed how the game finished, and potentially the outcome of the game.
James has reacted to the NBA's report, via The Score, stating he isn't mad about the missed calls, but he is annoyed that the officials have refused to admit to their mistakes so far.
"For me, the worst thing is when I actually go and talk to the ref and they say, 'It was nothing,' Like I go over, 'You didn't see that?' 'Nah, I didn't think it was anything. There's no call, there's no foul.' That's the worst, for me," James told reporters Wednesday.
Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors
"If he says, 'I missed that one, or maybe I wasn't in the right position,' (that's fine). But when you see the ref right there on the baseline looking at the whole play, and you go up to him and he says there's no call multiple times in crunch time. That's the frustrating part. And for me, it's even more frustrating because I know how I'm officiated at times."
While there's no guarantee that the missed calls would have given the Cavaliers the win, if the free throws were scored, it could have altered how the final few sequences of the contest played out, as the Eastern Conference side would have been in a better position to win the game.