The Golden State Warriors suffered their first loss of the Western Conference Finals at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday May 16th. And while it was a narrow 108-102 loss, such a loss has generated huge amounts of controversy, as an obvious miscall by the referees swayed the outcome of the game in favor of the Thunder.
With less than 20 seconds left in the 4th quarter, Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook clearly traveled when his pivot foot moved as he made to protect the basketball. Such a move was later considered an attempt to signal for timeout, to the huge displeasure of Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr.
“I didn’t talk to the refs about it,” said Kerr. “I thought he walked, but it wasn’t called, so that’s the way it goes.”
Prior to the miscall the Warriors were only trailing by three points, and had ample time to make the last minute comeback as they’ve been doing all season long.
“The officials, no one could get in a good position to see him drag that pivot foot,” said NA senior vice president of replay and referee operations Joe Borgia. “It’s an unfortunate miss, but so much going on in the play, the speed of it, and officiating is about getting angles and sometimes you just can’t get them, and they did not get a great angle on that play.”
And while most can agree that Westbrook took a step off his planted foot, this shouldn’t negate the fact that the Warriors played a highly competitive game. Point guard Steph Curry has been hugely beneficial to the lineup since he returned from his sprained knee injury, and he earned 26 points seven assists and ten rebounds in 40 minutes. Similarly, Klay Thompson managed 25 points four assists and nine rebounds in his 40 minutes.
While the call against Westbrook should have undeniably been a travel, the Warriors look capable of making this series extremely interesting as they demonstrated they’re still the highly talented defending champions they’ve been all season. If anything the outcome of the miscall will simply act as fuel to fire their journey even further into the playoffs. Hopefully the Thunder can take the heat.