Stephen Curry was credited with the game-winner, but we took the scenic route in coming around to that ruling. First, let’s start with the actual bucket — a delicate, high-arcing scoop layup that would register an off-the-charts degree of difficulty for all but a few people in the world, one of which Curry happens to be.
OK, so that’s a bucket, right?
Almost immediately, the shot, which broke a 139-139 tie, was called off as Draymond Green was called for offensive basket interference for having contacted the rim while the ball was still inside the cylinder.
You can see here that Green did, indeed, touch the rim:
OK, so the basket interference ruling is going to be upheld and the game will be heading to overtime, right?
The longer the review went on, it started to look like OKC’s Josh Giddey would, in fact, be hit with a defensive goaltend for contacting the net, while the ball was in the cylinder, prior to Green touching the rim. Have a look:
“My perspective was that my hand touched the rim,” Green conceded after the game. “It looked like the ball was about to pop out, and I was going to get a put-back. When I jumped to get the put-back, Giddey went back into my leg, so it kind of brought my hand down and hit the rim.
“But,” Green continued, “hitting the rim is not a goaltend. I didn’t affect the shot. I also saw Giddey had pulled the net as well, so there was some confusion. [Game umpire] Che [Flores] said if [Giddey] touched the net and it didn’t affect the ball, it’s not a goaltend. And [Flores] said if I touched the rim and I didn’t affect the ball, it’s not a goaltend. I knew I didn’t affect the ball, so I thought it was good.”
As it turned out, Green was right. According to the official postgame pool report, the ruling was that Green making contact with the rim (nor, for that matter, Giddey touching the net) affected the trajectory of the ball. Therefore, it wasn’t offensive basket interference, and it wasn’t defensive goaltending. It was just a regular-old bucket.
That is indeed in keeping with the NBA’s rulebook, which explains offensive basket interference like this:
“The offensive player pulls the rim to an ‘off-center’ position, while the ball is in contact with the rim, causing the ball to take an ‘unnatural bounce’ when the rim then springs back to a normal position. This is an offensive basket interference violation, as it is illegal for a player to cause the rim to be off center while in contact with the ball and cause an unnatural bounce.”
Again, all Green did was touch the rim. He didn’t pull it into an “off-center” position, and the ball did not take an “unnatural bounce.” The officials got it right.