Auburn Hills — In almost every sport, leagues have taken extra care in the final few minutes of a game to focus on getting calls right. Beyond the emphasis on officiating, it’s an extra effort to use replay review to confirm calls, including calls out of bounds and confirming a 3-pointer.
It’s an inexact science, but it’s better than just leaning to the officials’ initial judgment in a split second to see whether a fingertip touched a ball before it went out of bounds. The practice also has slowed games and made them tedious in the final minutes.
A couple critical calls in the end of the Warriors-Cavaliers game on Christmas Day brought additional scrutiny, but it’s becoming a louder debate across sports, with football coming under the microscope because of all the calls overturned and the uncertainty over what can be deemed a catch.
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy isn’t a fan of the way it’s turned.
“It’s been like that for a couple years now. I’m one of the few who’s not for the replay. I’m for making the calls and then let’s play,” Van Gundy said. “I really came to that the two years I didn’t coach and I was watching games.”
Besides interrupting the watching experience, it also proves to be inconclusive at times, which is just as frustrating as making the wrong call. When done properly, replay review is a good addition, but when it detracts, it does it in a big way.
“I thought the replay was one of the worst things going, but the league likes it, the owners like it and they don’t want to have to endure the next day when somebody makes a bad call and costs somebody a game down the stretch,” Van Gundy said. “They’d rather have that than 24 hours of people criticizing their referees. I get it — from a fan’s perspective, I don’t think it’s a good thing.”
The NBA also has added the Last-2-Minute Report, which is the league’s review of close games and the calls made in the final two minutes. It seeks to identify calls and non-calls that were incorrect, but there’s no impact or sanction for those wrong calls.
The Pistons played the Pacers for the fourth and final time this season — a rarity, given that the season isn’t even halfway done. It’s a scheduling quirk, but one benefit is that they don’t have to face Victor Oladipo again — at least in the regular season.
Since the trade from the Thunder, which sent Paul George to Oklahoma City, Oladipo has flourished in Indiana, where he also played in college. Van Gundy has seen the growth from being the second option to being one of the best guards in the East.
“It’s mainly opportunity. He shot it well last year, but with (Russell) Westbrook, he was playing off the ball virtually all the time,” Van Gundy said. “This is the first time he’s really gotten the chance to be the guy where the ball is in his hands all the time.
“He’s gotten a lot of opportunity and he’s taken advantage of it and played very well.”
Oladipo, 25, is averaging career highs in points (25.3), rebounds (5.4), steals (1.8) and 3-point accuracy (43 percent).
In their three previous games in a short span, the Pacers have gotten to know the Pistons fairly well. What sticks out is Detroit’s improvement on defense.
“They've done a good job of applying pressure and defending the paint and contesting our shots. In the games we lost to them, we didn’t shoot the ball well and we’ve got to do a better job of executing our offense, getting good shots,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “They do a good job of pressuring the ball and their bigs do a good job of defending the basket.”
Dwight Buycks was dressed and active for the game, getting the call-up from the Grand Rapids Drive.