The NBA dodged a massive bullet after Ray Allen pulled a Jesus Shuttlesworth and saved the Heat’s season with 5.3 seconds remaining in regulation of Game 6. Had future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan been the one to bury a game-winner in those final seconds, the league would have to explain why a player who was not even supposed to be in the game in the first place had just won his Spurs the championship.
Let’s back up. What are we talking about?
After Allen hit his series and season-saving three for Miami, the officials stopped the game in order to check out the tape. The refs were looking to make sure Allen’s feet were both behind the three-point line.
Coach Gregg Popovich’s Spurs were out of timeouts at the time. The break in action gave him an opportunity to at least talk to his players, if not draw something up.
Pop substituted Duncan, which was an illegal move. Because there was no foul or timeout called, the same five players that walked off the court to wait were the same five who were supposed to walk back on.
But such was not the case, and the NBA confirmed its mistake on Wednesday.
Nuts, indeed. The substitution should have been called a technical foul, which should have resulted in Miami foul shots. Such a situation would have presumably resulted in Ray Allen winning the game for the Heat.
Conversely, if Duncan (or any other Spurs player for that matter) had hit a shot to win the game, they would have done all the celebrating in the world — only to have to re-play the final five seconds of the game at a later date.
Seriously. The shot would have been protested by the Heat, and an expedited ruling on the part of commissioner David Stern would have likely forced the two teams to take the court, totally cold, with seconds remaining in Game 6 of the Finals. Remember, the Spurs would have already celebrated winning the NBA title, as any game-winning shot with Duncan on the floor at that point would have given San Antonio four wins for the series.
Luckily, the NBA does not have to worry about any of the this. The Spurs did not score, the Heat won, 103-100, in an epic overtime clash, and now both are gearing up for what promises to be a Game 7 for the ages.