When seeking positives in the immediate wake of his team’s playoff elimination two weeks ago, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra noted the awkward implementation of the NBA review that removed a Max Strus 3-pointer from his team’s scoring ledger well after the fact in that Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics.

“I’m sure,” Spoelstra said at the time, “they will look at that and we’ll probably be the case study for it.”

Apparently, that will not be the case, as Monty McCutchen, NBA senior vice president for referee development and training, explained to ESPN amid the NBA Finals.

“When one happens in Game 7, it garnered more attention,” McCutchen said of the May 29 Eastern Conference finals game at FTX Arena, “but there were 15 other incidents where points were taken off the board this year from a team — including Miami, ironically — throughout the season. Now, there were probably hundreds of close calls to being out of bounds where they would have reviewed that in-house. Let’s say Strus, in that case, would have been inbounds by two or three inches. It still would have been reviewed.”

The Heat’s issue was the result of the review triggered to see if Strus was beyond the 3-point line, and found, in the replay-center view, he stepped on the sideline, was not announced until well after the fact, further altering the score amid a Celtics rally. It was not, Spoelstra emphasized, a reason the Heat cited for the loss.

“One of the key things that I’d like our fan base to know is that the process is much faster now,” McCutchen said, in comparison to previous NBA procedures. “In my career, we were waiting on that mandatory timeout to go review it ourselves as referees on the floor. Now, instead of that mandatory timeout that occurred much later, we were able to communicate it back to the table and it was corrected at, I think, 8:28 [in game time, after the shot was credited with 11:04 to play in that third period], saving several minutes off the old policy.”

McCutchen explained options were limited.

“We can’t announce those in live action,” he said. “As the ball’s being dribbled up, no one wants an announcement that interrupts flow through disappointment. If you hear that while you’re going up for a layup and you’ve just lost three points, that can really impact play. Secondarily, if we did it in live action and just took points off without announcing it, you could well imagine the confusion that would take for the team to look up and think that they had three points without understanding why they don’t have three points and then arguing about it during live action. So we think the first dead ball is the first opportune time.

“Now, in Strus’ instance, there were two dead balls prior to when it was announced. Both were fairly quick, though. One was an out-of-bounds in the backcourt where we give them the ball as soon as they’re ready, and the other had some element of small confusion because there was a defensive three [seconds] involved, so it didn’t get announced. Those were about 30 seconds before it got announced, so it wasn’t in our view a material difference to the outcome of the game, those 30 seconds.”

The nose knows

The first surgery of the Heat’s offseason is at hand, one that should leave guard Duncan Robinson breathing easier.

Robinson confirmed on his podcast the need for postseason surgery, but not from something stemming from this season or his work with the Heat.

“I have a fracture in my nose that has resulted in a deviated septum of sorts,” he said, noting the issues it had created over the years with nasal breathing. “And they said it was like life changing for their sleep, for their performance, for their conditioning.”

So with the Heat eliminated, he said the time was right.

“I figured the time was now,” he said. “It doesn’t really put you out for that long, 10 days or so.”

And, no, he said, not cosmetic surgery.

“Nothing visually will change,” he noted.

Lowry lane

Heat guard Kyle Lowry, who helped the Toronto Raptors win the 2019 NBA title, is among those to have a Toronto street named in his honor Monday.

Kyle Lowry Road will be one of the eight new streets in a North York neighborhood. That same neighborhood also will now feature Champions Road, which, according to planners, will “serve as a reminder of the rewards of hard work, commitment, and passion” to the Raptors’ 2019 championship.



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