Cleveland Cavaliers on the wrong end of two key late-game calls against Philadelphia on Sunday, NBA says

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cleveland Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff’s harsh criticism of Sunday night’s officiating was accurate.

The NBA’s Last Two Minute Report, which was released Monday afternoon, showed two late-game calls that went against the Cavaliers — and played a prominent role in the 112-108 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

With 17.4 seconds remaining, All-Star Darius Garland was crowded by Philadelphia center Joel Embiid. According to a review of the play, Embiid reached across Garland and made contact to his left arm — a play that should’ve resulted in two free throws and could’ve put Cleveland ahead by one. Bickerstaff singled out that egregious missed call in his postgame remarks.

“Darius was crowded. It’s easy. He was crowded,” Bickerstaff said. “I don’t know what else — he did his job, got to his spot and got crowded. No whistle.”

The next officiating error came about five seconds later. With Philadelphia leading by one and attempting to throw the ball inbounds, 76ers All-Star James Harden placed his hand on Lauri Markkanen’s back, hooking his arm and committing an offensive foul. Had it been called correctly, the Cavs would’ve been given possession with a chance for a go-ahead shot. Instead, Harden got two free throws, making both and extending the Sixers’ lead to three points.

The Cavs still had one more chance on the offensive end, but Kevin Love’s errant inbounds pass was stolen away and Philadelphia clinched the game at the foul line. The Sixers took 42 free-throw attempts.

“We deserved to win that game. That game was taken from us. We deserved to win it,” Bickerstaff said afterward. “We did a great job defensively, of making their two best players have a difficult time from the field. But one thing you can’t defend is the free-throw line. And that’s absurd. That’s absurd. Our guys deserve way better than what they got tonight.”

There was one incorrect call that benefitted the Cavs, according to the Last Two Minute Report. Garland should have been whistled for defensive three seconds with around 1:00 left. Based on the rule, that would’ve resulted in a Philadelphia free throw for that violation.

The Last Two Minute Report gets released the day after every game that’s contested at or within three points during any juncture in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime. All calls and non-calls are reviewed. Similar to instant replay standards, there must be clear and conclusive video evidence in order to make a determination that a play was incorrectly officiated.

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