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#pounditSunday, January 29, 2023

Celtics benefit from controversial call on Max Strus 3-pointer to win East

Max Strus heel hovering out of bounds

The Boston Celtics officially won the Eastern Conference with a victory in Game 7 over the Miami Heat on Sunday. But many had something to say about an extremely controversial call in the third quarter that may have impacted the outcome.

During the opening minute of the third quarter, Heat forward Max Strus hit a three-pointer in front of his team’s bench to trim the Celtics’ lead to two. Several possessions later though, the referees decided to wipe the basket away entirely. They ruled that Strus’ heel was actually out of bounds, and thus it was a turnover instead of a three-pointer.

A look at the replay did not provide much clarity. Strus’ heel was definitely hovering out of bounds, but it was impossible to tell whether it had actually touched down or if it was just a casting a shadow that made it seem like he had stepped out. Take a look for yourself.

By the time Strus’ basket was taken off the board, nearly three minutes of game time had elapsed. The Celtics were shooting free throws at the time that the announcement was made, so they went from leading 65-57 to leading 67-54 after hitting their two foul shots.

Twitter expressed outrage over the decision to take away Strus’ three. Many were not even aware that a basket could be retroactively taken off the board without a coach’s challenge. Check out a glimpse of the reaction.

The Heat would end up losing the game by four (100-96). After storming back in the final three minutes, Miami even had a chance to take the lead when Jimmy Butler missed a potential knockout three with 16.6 seconds left. Needless to say, the overturned Strus basket was ultimately massive.

You could easily make the argument that the Celtics were the better team and deserved to win. They did, after all, lead by double-digits for most of Sunday. But for a Heat team that showed a King Arthur-level of heroism in taking it seven games despite injuries up and down the rotation this series, that is a really tough way for your season to be decided, especially since the evidence to overturn Strus’ three seemed far from conclusive.


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