In Game 1 of the WNBA semifinals series between the Washington Mystics and Las Vegas Aces, a good no-call made for a controversial last-second finish.
The 2019 WNBA Playoffs have been fantastic so far, but a controversial finish to Game 1 of the semifinals series between the Washington Mystics and Las Vegas Aces nearly marred yet another incredible contest.
Fortunately for everyone outside of the Aces fanbase, the officials got this one right.
With the clock winding down and Las Vegas trailing by two points, guard Kelsey Plum drove down the court following a Liz Cambage defensive rebound. Weaving through the defenders and sensing Elena Delle Donne behind her, Plum pulled up from the foul line as the clock expired, trying to draw the contact.
The refs weren’t fooled, the shot attempt went zooming off the backboard harmlessly and the Mystics emerged with a 97-95 victory to start the best-of-five series.
To be fair, there was some contact from Delle Donne as Plum released the shot. In other instances, that might have been enough to trick the officials into blowing the whistle. It’s more than common in the NBA, with guys like Chris Paul and James Harden abruptly pulling up when they sense contact from behind to try and draw a foul.
However, there wasn’t enough contact on this play — especially at that juncture of a playoff game — to warrant the same kind of friendly whistle. Had Plum pulled up for a normal jump shot and Delle Donne’s momentum carried her into the Aces guard, that would’ve been one thing. But watch the video again, and you’ll see Plum not only slow up solely to try and draw the contact with her unnatural-looking desperation heave, but also sidestep into the defender make it look good.
No one can fault Plum for trying to draw the contact and earn a trip to the foul line for the chance to tie the game and force overtime, but the officials were right not to fall for this one. There wasn’t nearly enough contact from behind from Delle Donne to earn that whistle, and Plum’s attempt at a last-second bailout didn’t deserve one.