Basketball

Refs made call to answer fans’ questions during NBA Finals. Here's how the ‘party’ went

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James argues a call with referee Zach Zarba during Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday. NBA refs were live on Twitter as the game went on.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James argues a call with referee Zach Zarba during Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday. NBA refs were live on Twitter as the game went on. The Associated Press

NBA officials made another interesting call well before the Cavaliers and Warriors hit the floor.

The referees' official Twitter site announced Tuesday that it would hold a live "Ref Watch Party" on Twitter and answer questions as Game 3 was played.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">NBA Twitter has a lot to say - especially during the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAFinals?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBAFinals</a>. And now we&#39;ll be joining the conversation.<br><br>We&#39;re live-tweeting Game 3, reacting and responding in real-time. Join the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RefWatchParty?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RefWatchParty</a> with us on Twitter tomorrow night! <a href="https://t.co/VZU4f77275">pic.twitter.com/VZU4f77275</a></p>&mdash; NBA Referees (@OfficialNBARefs) <a href="https://twitter.com/OfficialNBARefs/status/1004090693520896004?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 5, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

As Golden State defeated Cleveland 110-102 Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the NBA Finals, the page, @OfficialNBARefs, either answered or made direct references to about 20 users, as well as offering information on some plays in the game, using the hashtag #RefWatchParty.

Whoever was moderating the site welcomed Twitter users to ask questions.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">What is it like to watch an <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAFinals?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBAFinals</a> game with a background in professional officiating? That&#39;s what we hope to show you during <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RefWatchParty?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RefWatchParty</a> - how we see the game, and hopefully tell you some things you may not know. We&#39;ll answer some questions too. Here we go...</p>&mdash; NBA Referees (@OfficialNBARefs) <a href="https://twitter.com/OfficialNBARefs/status/1004524683721666563?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 7, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

One question came from a former Sacramento Bee reporter:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The trail official sees the offensive player (James) go through the defender (Curry) and the lead official sees Curry hold the arm of James. After discussion, it was determined that the lead has the illegal contact by Curry prior to the offensive foul by James. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RefWatchParty?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RefWatchParty</a> <a href="https://t.co/Hp4K2uW4oS">https://t.co/Hp4K2uW4oS</a></p>&mdash; NBA Referees (@OfficialNBARefs) <a href="https://twitter.com/OfficialNBARefs/status/1004546690383216641?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 7, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Another inquiry referred to an infamous play from more than 15 years ago:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The offensive player purposely threw the ball off of his OPPONENT&#39;S backboard - that is a violation. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RefWatchParty?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RefWatchParty</a> <a href="https://t.co/6MgqhY6boO">https://t.co/6MgqhY6boO</a></p>&mdash; NBA Referees (@OfficialNBARefs) <a href="https://twitter.com/OfficialNBARefs/status/1004540933369679872?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 7, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Overall, a site which counts hashtags reported it was used more than 1,500 times by the time the game ended. It's unclear if another "party" is scheduled for Game 4.

Officiating in this year's NBA Finals has received some attention, especially after Game 1.

The most talked-about call of the series came in Thursday's opener. With 36.4 seconds left in regulation and the Cavaliers leading 104-102 at Oracle Arena, Cleveland's LeBron James drew a charging call on Golden State's Kevin Durant. Referees went to the replay monitors to be certain James wasn't in the restricted circle — he clearly was not.

However, after a discussion, officials changed the call to a blocking foul on James. So, instead of the Cavaliers taking possession with the lead, Durant made two free throws to tie the score.

"It was determined he was out of the restricted area, but he was not in a legal guarding position prior to Durant's separate shooting motion," referee Ken Mauer said after the game. "So we had to change it to a blocking foul."

The Cavaliers were upset with the reversal.

"It doesn't make sense to go review something if the review is if he's on the line or if he's close to the charge circle, that's the review. He wasn't close," Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. "It's never been done before where you know he's outside the restricted, and then you go there and overturn the call and say it's a block. It's never been done, ever, in the history of the game. ... It ain't right."

The Warriors, seeking their second consecutive championship and third in four seasons, will try to complete the sweep Friday at 6 p.m. Pacific on ABC.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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