If you’ve watched this Celtics-Raptors second-round series, you’ve probably noticed Toronto relies pretty heavily on a zone defense.
What you may not have noticed is that the Raptors’ unique defense is consistently exploiting a blind spot of NBA officiating: the defensive three-second violation.
As NBC Sports’ Tom Haberstroh laid out in his latest column, defensive three seconds is one of the most overlooked calls in the NBA — especially at the end of games.
According to The Pudding’s examination of the league’s Last Two Minute reports, there were 141 defensive three-second violations in the last two minutes of close games between 2015 and 2018, and only one was called.
That stat may explain why Raptors star Kyle Lowry was able to stay in the paint for a good five seconds on Boston’s final possession of Game 3 to stop Kemba Walker’s drive and force him to make an incredible pass to Daniel Theis for a go-ahead dunk with five seconds to play.