Marcus Morris apparently had the right to be upset following the final play of the Celtics’ 98-97 loss Thursday to the Milwaukee Bucks.
According to the NBA’s last-two-minute report, the officials calling the game missed three fouls on the Bucks against the Celtics on the last possession alone. The league’s assessment, which was released Friday afternoon, found that the refs missed two calls committed against Irving during his last-second drive to the hoop, as well as an off-ball foul against Marcus Morris, who was the Celtics’ first option on the play.
According to the NBA’s review, Bucks guard Kris Middleton should have been called for grabbing Morris, who was cutting toward the hoop after setting an off-ball pick to free up Irving for the inbounds pass.
Additionally, the league says that Giannis Antetokounmpo should have been called for bumping legs with Irving, knocking the Celtics point guard off balance on his drive. Antetokounmpo’s teammate Eric Bledsoe then made contact with Irving, affecting his shot attempt. Both should have been called fouls, according to the league — but went uncalled.
Morris could be seen yelling at one referee immediately after Irving’s unsuccessful runner hit iron.
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 22, 2019
“The dude was holding,” Marcus Smart, who was inbounding the ball on the final play, said of Middleton after the game.
“[Morris] had been held,” Smart said. “Once that play was done, the second option was for Kyrie. He made a great play, got the ball up. We had a chance.”
However, the report also says the refs missed an illegal pick by Irving on Middleton before Smart inbounded the ball. And the Celtics maybe shouldn’t have even had the chance to draw-up a last-second play.
On the prior possession, up by 1 point, the Bucks were called for a shot-clock violation following a jump ball with 0.2 seconds left remaining on the 24-second clock and 3.7 seconds left on the game clock.
The unusual play consisted of Antetokounmpo tipping the jump ball to Bucks center Brook Lopez, who tipped it toward the rim. The shot missed and Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon also missed a put-back attempt, but the Celtics would have only had roughly a second remaining on the game clock upon getting the rebound to call a timeout or attempt a full-court heave had the violation not been called.
“With 0.2 seconds, the 24-second clock didn’t start until Lopez possessed the ball,” officiating crew chief Mike Callahan explained after the game, noting that NBA rules say that a player cannot legally get off a shot attempt with less than with 0.3 on the clock — unless it’s a tip.
According to the last-two-minute report, Lopez’s shot was a two-handed tip and a 24-second violation should not have been called.