LeBron James' big block of a shot by Indiana Pacers star Victor Oladipo at the end of Game 5 should have resulted in a goaltending call, the NBA acknowledged Thursday.
It was bang-bang play for sure, but when the NBA released its Final Two Minutes report on Thursday afternoon the truth was clear: the play should have been called goaltending.
With the score tied at 95 and the clock winding down in the fourth quarter, Indiana guard Victor Oladipo drove down the left side of the lane with James defending.
Oladipo laid the ball off the glass moments before James swatted away the attempt. Goaltending should have been called but wasn't, and the play wasn't reviewable by replay under NBA rules. Cleveland came up with the rebound with three seconds left, called timeout and set up a play on which James hit a 3-pointer to give Cleveland a 98-95 win.
"Hit the backboard, then he blocked it," Oladipo said. "Replays, I guess you guys can see, it was a tough play at the time for him, but it was a goaltend. It's hard to even speak on it. It just sucks, honestly. It really sucks."
To be fair, the report also said the Cavaliers should have had another possession in the closing moments as well, but the block on Oladipo directly impacted the score of the game while the missed out of bounds call flipped possession. It’s a gigantic “chicken or the egg” argument, but with the waning seconds of a basketball game.
The final score gave the Cavaliers a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven, first-round Eastern Conference playoff series. Game 6 is Friday in Indianapolis.