Breaking Down the Ending of Warriors vs Rockets Game 1

By Jesse Brawders
Apr. 29, 2019

First, what a game that was last night! Experts circled this possible matchup when the playoff bracket got released due to how competitive it should have been and it is living up to expectations. The battle between the stacked Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets year after year has been a game to watch. Late in the game however, a controversial set of events happened that led to the Warriors winning at home 104-100 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

The Scene

Throughout the game, Harden was heavily contested, perhaps fouled, on multiple three-point attempts. In the previous series against the Utah Jazz, Harden would get the foul call on shots from beyond the arc that were very similar to the shots from Sunday night. The Rockets started to get frustrated with the no calls, resulting in yelling at the referee multiple times in transition. Chris Paul received a technical foul for arguing with the referee after a no call against him. This all led up to the Rockets stealing the ball with around 15 seconds left in the game down by three. Harden had the ball, looked around for a few seconds, and decided to shoot from three. He was heavily contested by Draymond Green, jumping up and landing near where Harden was supposed to land. Harden missed the shot, was rebounded by the Rockets before going out of bounds by Houston. Paul was ejected after receiving his second technical foul for touching the referee and the game ended shortly after.

The Arguments

Harden was fouled by Green on his final shot of the game. I can see where the Rockets are coming from, with Houston getting the majority of those calls last round. Several players from the Jazz commented on the no call on Twitter, bantering back and forth.

My guys were not allowed to contest shots like that last week...or maybe I'm crazy and it's just camera angles - Rudy Gobert

When I initially saw the play occur, it appeared that Harden was fouled due to Green not allowing Harden enough room to land. But when I had a second look this morning, my verdict quickly changed. The camera shows Harden going up for the shot, being contested by Green, but then extending his legs out so they would hit Green. Therefore, it is Harden's fault that he had nowhere to land and there should be no foul. In the NBA L2M Report for the game, it confirmed that the correct call was made.

Harden (HOU) draws Green (GSW) into the air during his shot attempt. Green jumps in front of Harden and would have missed him if Harden hadn't extended his legs. - NBA L2M Report

Houston will obviously be upset about the call for a long time, especially if they end up losing the series to Golden State. In my opinion, the referees got the call right, even with the rule itself needing some adjusting. It is hard to decide how much room the shooter is allowed to have, leaving defenders with the task to quickly figure out if they should even jump. In a way, it feels like poetic justice, due to Harden drawing in fouls on 3s throughout the entire regular season and getting the calls. Harden had some choice words for NBA refs after the game, stating:

I just want a fair chance man. Just call the game it's supposed to be called and we'll live with the results - James Harden

I understand that Harden is frustrated due to getting that call all season, but the game is supposed to be played a certain way and perhaps his luck has ran out. Maybe NBA officiating are finally catching on to Harden's antics.

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