The Boston Celtics missed a last-second shot by star point guard Isaiah Thomas on Friday, causing the top-seeded Eastern Conference team to lose Game Six of their NBA Eastern Conference Semifinal series to the fourth-seeded Washington Wizards, forcing a decisive Game Seven in Boston on Monday. But a report from the NBA office on Saturday suggests that the series, possibly, should not be returning to Boston at all.
In fact, the Celtics were robbed, the NBA admitted — of one second that could have made the difference between Thomas making or missing the final shot — a shot that would have put the Celtics ahead in the game with no time left on the clock, giving them the victory.
“I could take another dribble. I could have got past [Markieff] Morris, probably. A little bit, got a little bit more separation,” Thomas said to reporters gathered at the Celtics’ practice session on Sunday. “It is what it is. We can’t worry about that. It just sucks that they came out with it and said we should have had another second.”
In what had been a nail-biting, back-and-forth game, the Celtics clung to a two-point lead after an improbable bank shot jumper by center Al Horford. But with just 3.5 seconds left on the clock, Wizards superstar point guard John Wall threw up a long-range three-pointer over Boston defender Avery Bradley — and sank it. The shot gave the Wizards a 92-91 lead.
The 3.5 seconds remaining, however, gave the Celtics plenty of time to set up a potentially game-winning shot. But the Wizards had one foul to give, which 21-year-old Wizards small forward Kelly Oubre used, stopping the clock with 2.7 seconds remaining by fouling Celtics backup center Kelly Olynyk.
And that’s where the problems started.
According to the NBA’s “Last Two Minute Report” on the game — a routine report issued by the NBA noting possible officiating errors in the final two minutes of NBA games — Oubre fouled Oylynk with 2.7 seconds remaining, but when play resumed, the clock showed only 1.7 seconds.
“One more dribble. That’s what we always think: You get one more dribble per second,” Celtics Coach Brad Stevens said Sunday. “But, again, I don’t live that way. That happens.”
The NBA noted in its report that “instant replay is not permitted in this situation.”
Watch the final two minutes of the Friday Celtics vs. Wizards Game Six play out in the video below.
NBA “Two Minute” reports are issued for any game in which the teams are separated by five points or fewer with two minutes left to play.
“The foul is whistled with approximately 2.7 seconds on the clock, but the clock runs to 1.7 seconds before stopping,” Saturday’s NBA report explained. “The clock should have been stopped earlier automatically on the whistle or by the neutral clock operator.”
The Celtics, however, have no recourse to fix the NBA error, and on Sunday appeared more frustrated to learn about the NBA report than by the mistake which, possibly, sent the series back to Boston where the result of Monday’s Game Seven will determine which team continues to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.
“Everybody knew [the extra second came off] in the gym,” Celtics forward Jae Crowder said. “There’s nothing we can do now. I hate those reports, personally.”
The Celtics face the Wizards in Game Seven on Monday at TD Garden in Boston at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 5 p.m. Pacific. The game will be televised by the TNT network and a live stream will be available via WatchTNT at this link.
[Featured Image By Rob Carr/Getty Images]