Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals was one for the ages. The Miami Heat had the basketball gods on their side and managed to tie the game and eventually win it in overtime, forcing a game 7. But even if they lost, there was a chance the game could be replayed. Wait, what?
According to Ken Berger, Tim Duncan was on the floor illegally for the last possession of regulation:
Duncan, who’d been subbed into the game following an official play stoppage for a replay review of Ray Allen’s game-tying 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left, shouldn’t have been on the floor. The league office confirmed Wednesday that Duncan had been substituted into the game illegally after the replay stoppage.
What does this mean? Since the Spurs didn’t score on that possession and ultimately lost 103-100 in overtime, it doesn’t mean much. A mistake was made, a rule was misapplied, but it didn’t affect the outcome of the game.
But what if it had? If the Spurs had scored on the final possession of regulation and won the championship on that play, all holy hell would’ve broken loose. The Heat could’ve — and presumably would’ve — filed a protest with the league office over the Duncan substitution. Under the league’s protest guidelines, there would’ve been an expedited ruling from commissioner David Stern.
Basically, to sum it up, Duncan was not supposed to be on the floor when Tony Parker made his way down the court and attempted to win the game for San Antonio at the end of regulation. Now, Duncan’s presence didn’t really change anything, as Parker simply pushed the ball across the floor and missed while falling out of bounds, but had he made the shot, the Heat would have had a legitimate case for a protest.
It’s hard to imagine, but a possible ending to game 6 could’ve been something like this: Parker knocks down the jumper, wins the game for the Spurs, San Antonio lifts the Larry O’Brien trophy and the team flies home. A couple of days later, David Stern calls both teams and tells them that they need to play again.
Now, since Parker missed the shot, none of this matters, but it’s a scary thought. If the Spurs had won in overtime, the Heat could not protest, as it doesn’t directly change the outcome of the game. However, if Tony did win the game in regulation, the two teams would have to pick the game up when it’s tied and with 5.2 seconds left in regulation.