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March 28, 2023

A missed call ended Sixers comeback chance vs. Nuggets

Doc Rivers did what he could to revert a bad call Monday night in Denver.

The Sixers made the Denver Nuggets sweat out a win against a group of backups on Monday night, with an expected MVP showdown falling apart in the hours before the game. Should the Sixers have had a chance to tie the game late? The answer appears to be yes.

In the final minute of Monday’s loss in Denver, Philadelphia had cut the lead to three points following a Montrezl Harrell dunk with 28 seconds left. Opting not to foul right away while hoping to get a stop, the Sixers eventually ran out of rope when Jalen McDaniels fouled Jeff Green at the rim with 13 seconds left. Or did he?

After Doc Rivers challenged the bang-bang play — no harm in giving it an extra look — a subplot emerged on the television replay. Prior to the potential foul on Green, Denver’s veteran forward appeared to have his foot on the baseline while receiving the pass prior to the foul.

The officials ruled that the Sixers’ challenge was unsuccessful, noting that the replay supported the call on the floor. What it did not appear to rule out was the out of bounds miss. 

According to a league official who spoke to PhillyVoice late on Monday evening, Green being in or out of bounds leading up to the foul falls under the scope of the review/challenge process. In other words, the Sixers very well could (and perhaps should) have won the challenge and gotten a chance to tie the game.

What isn’t clear at the moment is why that didn’t happen. Based purely on speculation, the simplest explanation is that the officiating crew did not look back that far on the replay, zeroing in on the contact between McDaniels and Green at the rim. 

Because a pool report was not triggered following the game, the only source of clarity on the matter will come from the league’s last two minute report on Tuesday, which will highlight what was (or wasn’t) missed down the stretch of Sixers-Nuggets.

At the end of the day, overturning the foul in that spot likely ends with the same outcome, with the Sixers losing despite offering a valiant effort against the frontrunners out west. But it would have made for great drama at a minimum, providing a scrappy group of Philly backups with one last crack at it in the closing seconds. For anyone who stayed up watching Sixers hoops until midnight on a Monday on the east coast, that alone might have been worth it.

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