NBA Senior Vice President, Replay and Referee Operations Joe Borgia spoke with NBA TV after Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals:
RICK KAMLA: Why are the officials allowed to review — you know the play with Kevin Love and Bismack Biyombo, allowed to that review that. There was an unusual step taken in this one in terms of points being taken off the board. Kindly explain that play for us, Joe.
JOE BORGIA: Sure, Rick. So on the play what happens is you have Biyombo goes up and he extends his elbow out, which catches Love. And from the position of the two referees, they’re sort of in a straight line. It’s like, Okay, did that elbow — how much contact did it make. We sort of teach officials, don’t guess on plays. The play happened, the ball goes in, and then the officials are like, Hold it, okay; we’re pretty sure he hit him with that elbow. So they came to the video review replay for a hostile act. And when you come over for a hostile act, you’re going to look at the play, you’re going to determine what the ruling is.
Listen, on this play, Biyombo has got that elbow extended, he comes around and he makes significant contact to Love’s face. So they elected to rule it a Flagrant Foul 1, and since it’s on an offensive player, you cannot have continuation. Therefore the basket cannot count when you have that flagrant foul during a basketball move.
RICK KAMLA: Joe, what was your read on another play earlier in this game tonight. Tristan Thompson got tangled up with Kyle Lowry under the hoop very early in the game, made contact with Lowry’s face with the left elbow. What was your read on that play?
JOE BORGIA: I heard the announcers talk that that was very similar to the Biyombo to Love contact. Quite frankly, they weren’t even close to each other. It was an offensive foul, if anything. He doesn’t really swing that elbow. There is very little contact that may be enhanced. Now, something probably should have been called — the offensive foul was called. But what we had earlier in the series in Game 1, we actually had Love commit a flagrant foul against [Patrick] Patterson on a very similar play. So you watch the one here, watch Love, you see how he swings his arm around and makes flush, good, hard contact to Patterson’s face, and this play here was ruled a Flagrant 1. So when you compare the plays, the two Love plays, one where he gets it and one where he delivers the blow, are very similar. Both of those were ruled Flagrant 1s. The one earlier with Lowry, like I said, you didn’t have the big arm movement and you had some minor contact and an offensive foul was assessed on that one.