NBA admits a clock error cost the Celtics an extra second at the end of Game 6

Ball Don't Lie
Kelly Oubre and <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/5164/" data-ylk="slk:Kelly Olynyk">Kelly Olynyk</a> tangle with 2.7 seconds left on the clock. (Getty Images)
Kelly Oubre and Kelly Olynyk tangle with 2.7 seconds left on the clock. (Getty Images)

The Boston Celtics should have had more time to work with on Friday night. The NBA announced on Sunday that extra seconds should have been put on the clock following John Wall’s game-winner in Game 6, seconds that could have allowed one of the league’s best fourth quarter clubs to finagle a game-tying hoop out of a desperate situation.

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Boston never got a chance, following Wall’s basket with 3.5 seconds left in the game. Washington had a foul to give while up a point, which is why second-year Wizards forward Kelly Oubre tangled with his friend Kelly Olynyk near the front of the rim after Boston’s would-be final play unfolded starting at 3.5 seconds.

It looked as if the whistle blew at 2.7 seconds, but Oubre’s move took the clock down to 1.7 ticks for the Celtics and for Isaiah Thomas, who missed this hoped-for game-winner:

On Sunday, the league’s Last Two Minute Reports alerted us to this aside, via Deadspin:

The foul is whistled with approximately 2.7 seconds on the clock, but the clock runs to 1.7 seconds before stopping. The clock should have been stopped earlier automatically on the whistle or by the neutral clock operator. Instant replay is not permitted in this situation.

For those just now hopping on to the NBA’s (hopefully evolving) protocol with the L2M reports, understand that the league will not call for a do-over, an extra 1.8 added to the clock in Monday’s Game 7 (at the time of Boston’s choosing), and Game 6 will not be replayed. This is where the league is at, currently, in its bid to look more and more transparent. It’s a noble idea, these L2M reports, but the release does nothing for the Celtics or the already-embarrassed referees.

Dan reminds us that Game 6 also featured a blown goaltending call on Mr. Oubre …

… a pair of lost points that provides a more direct line between the NBA’s report and the tone from some in Team Green suggesting the Celtics never had a chance.

(Save for that whole part where the Boston bench shot 2-15, or where the Celtics allowed the Wizards to gobble up more than a quarter of all available offensive rebounds, or that very workable missed three-pointer spun by Isaiah Thomas, the Eastern Conference’s king of clutch.)

The answer, in a league that should be attempting to get away from endless, drama-dulling replay marathons, is for more replay. The NBA’s cruel mix of official and unofficial rules, when it comes to officiating a contest, got in the way once again – in years past, a ref could use common sense and a bit of guesswork to give, say, the Celtics 2.5 seconds left in the contest to finish the game.

In 2016-17, though, any deadball overrule or change to the bottom line has to come stamped with a reviewed approval, and because the clock situation somehow wasn’t reviewable the referees were forced to leave this one on the side, possibly costing Boston a better shot at its first Eastern final since 2012.

Still in its nascent stages, you’ll see this from time to time with NBA instant replays – referees dutifully ignoring the unreviewable foul call that they badly missed, with an arena’s worth of fans reminding them of the miss, while conferring with the replay to determine whether or not a player stepped on the three-point line or not.

Game 7, and not a moment too soon, is scheduled for Monday night in Boston.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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