'Legitimately awful': NBA fans rage over 'nonsense' Playoffs controversy

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
NBA fans erupted after referees called a foul on Denver's Austin Rivers in this play on Portland's Damian Lillard, which led to two overtime periods. Picture: NBA TV
NBA fans erupted after referees called a foul on Denver's Austin Rivers in this play on Portland's Damian Lillard, which led to two overtime periods. Picture: NBA TV

The NBA's challenge system has been heavily criticised by fans after a highly dubious foul call on Damian Lillard allowed the Portland Trailblazers to force overtime in game five of their series against Denver.

Outraged fans took to Twitter after Denver guard Austin Rivers was called for a foul on what was potentially a game-tying three pointer from Lillard.

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Replays showed Rivers was nowhere near Lillard when the shot went up - but the officiating crew inexplicably upheld the foul call.

Instead, he was called for a foul from moments earlier, when he lightly touched Lillard's hand before the Blazers star had even started to dribble.

While it was a temporary reprieve, meaning the Blazers could only inbound the ball from the sidelines instead of giving Lillard three free-throws, it ultimately meant nothing.

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On the subsequent inbounds play, the Blazers got the ball to Lillard once again, who this time hit the three to send the game to overtime.

After the Nuggets went up by as many as nine in OT, Lillard wasn't going away.

He almost singlehandedly dragged the Blazers back into the contest, hitting two big threes in the first period of overtime to tie the game and force another five minutes of play.

While fans were nonetheless enthralled by another display of Damian Lillard greatness, there was a groundswell of frustration with the inexplicable call that was upheld against Rivers.

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After they were unable to put the feisty Blazers away in the first overtime, Denver were able to dig in during the second extra period to escape with a 3-2 series lead and a hard-fought 147-140 victory.

The Nuggets were led by MVP candidate Nikola Jokic, who finished the game with 38 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.

It was a significant contrast to the Blazers, whose scoring was lead by the guard play of Lillard and his 55-point, 10 assist explosion.

Brooklyn Nets eliminate Boston Celtics from NBA Playoffs

The Celtics were once again missing three starters — Jaylen Brown (wrist), Kemba Walker (knee) and Robert Williams (ankle) — and the Nets let them hang around until midway through the fourth quarter, when Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden hit consecutive 3-pointers to turn a slim lead insurmountable.

Brooklyn's superstar trio combined for 83 points in a 123-109 victory to eliminate Boston, 4-1. 

The Nets advance to face Giannis Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Game 1 is set for Saturday.

Harden led Brooklyn with 34 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Irving scored 25 points. Durant had 24.

The Celtics hovered inside of single digits for much of the night, drawing within 97-89 on Evan Fournier's three-point play with just under eight minutes remaining. 

Maybe it was a feeling of inevitability that permeated the building, but the Barclays Center had a regular-season vibe for much of the night. 

Boston's lineup of Jabari Parker, Grant Williams, Payton Pritchard, Romeo Langford and Fournier even finished a +4.

It was not until Durant, Irving and Harden hit their treys on three straight possessions over a 49-second span that the floodgates opened. 

The Nets pushed their lead to 120-98 on another Durant 3 at the 3:19 mark of the fourth quarter.

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