Goran Dragic acknowledged that he caught a break Monday night in Game 4 when he swung an open hand toward the face of Raptors guard Cory Joseph late in the fourth quarter and missed, avoiding what could have ignited a troublesome problem for the Heat.
“It probably would be a different situation if I hit him,” the Heat point guard said Wednesday morning as the team was preparing to face the Raptors in Game 5 at the Air Canada Centre. “It was just a physical play. I was trying to get a rebound, he was holding my arm. I kind of tried to let it go. I [swung my arm] a little bit. But it was no contact, nothing.”
Dragic’s swing and apparent miss (Joseph said Wednesday that Dragic did make contact) didn’t cost him or the Heat anything Monday. But upon further review, the NBA slapped Dragic on Wednesday with a technical foul and an accompanying $2,000 fine.
Still, the Heat was fortunate. Had officials not missed the call at the 2:17 mark of the fourth quarter on Monday, Dragic likely would have been called for a technical or flagrant foul and possibly ejected from the game. The Raptors, meanwhile, would have gone to the free-throw line with an 81-79 lead while still maintaining possession after those free throws.
“I mean woulda, coulda, shoulda — didn’t happen,” Joseph said of the call that could have helped the Raptors prevent Dwyane Wade and the Heat from rallying, forcing overtime and evening the series at 2. “You could pick out two things that could change the aspect of the game either way.”
Joseph is right about that — and the Heat understands where he’s coming from.
Through the first four games of the series, three of which have gone to overtime, it’s been Miami that’s come out on the short end of the majority of missed calls in crucial situations. According to the league’s Last Two Minute Reports, which provide a review of the final two minutes of regulation and overtime in close games, nine of the 12 incorrect calls down the stretch through the first four games of the series have aided the Raptors.
In Game 1, five missed calls alone helped Toronto not only force overtime but put the Raptors in position to tie the score late in OT. If not for some late heroics from Wade (a steal and game-clinching dunk), the Heat might not have pulled that victory out.
In Game 2, a missed call early in overtime kept Miami’s Joe Johnson off the free-throw line and another missed call midway through OT should have resulted in an offensive foul against Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas. Instead, Valanciunas scored moments later to stretch the Raptors’ two-point lead to four. Toronto, of course, ended up winning that game.
And in Game 4, a missed traveling call on DeMar DeRozan with under a minute to play in regulation gave the Raptors new life when Toronto grabbed the rebound moments later. Had Joseph not missed a 17-foot jumper with 20.9 seconds to play, the Raptors probably would have survived the Heat’s late comeback led by Wade.
Dragic said the Heat’s ability to overcome some questionable officiating late in games throughout the playoffs has been a testament to the team’s character.
“We know this is a game that not every call is going to go our way,” Dragic said. “We need to be prepared. Sometimes you need to overcome the refs, the fans, even the opposite team and just play through those hard times and try to be focused so you can win.”
SACRIFICING HIS FACE
Wade joked Wednesday that Dragic’s face “has just been in the way a lot of times” during the series.
After leaving with a black eye in Game 1 and then a busted lip in Game 2 (which he finally had the eight stitches removed Wednesday), Dragic was drilled in the face late in Game 4 when DeRozan dribbled the ball off his foot and it shot straight in Dragic’s direction before he could even blink.
“It happened so fast a lot of guys didn’t even see it until we watched the film the next day or on Instagram that night,” Wade said. “Hey, Goran’s putting his face out there for the team. He’s doing whatever it takes. That’s the definition of whatever it takes.”