NBA

Here's why Steph Curry was allowed to make an 'illegal' substitution against the Cavs

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 25: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors and LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers pause on the court during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on December 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 25: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors and LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers pause on the court during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on December 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

If you tuned in to watch the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors in another nail-biter on Christmas Day, you might have been confused by a substitution on the Cavaliers' final offensive possession.

After Cleveland forced a shot clock violation by the Warriors, the officials reviewed the play to make sure that a violation did in fact occur. During their review, Golden State point guard Stephen Curry took a seat on the bench for defensive purposes, as the Warriors trailed the Cavs 108-107.

During the subsequent play -- which resulted in a Kyrie Irving fadeaway jumper that turned out to be the game winner -- broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy questioned the legality of the substitution, since there was no timeout called by either team during the review.

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After the game, the NBA league offices clarified the substitution on Twitter:

Review #GSWatCLE, 13.5 of Q4: Curry substitution was permissible due to 24-second clock violation.

— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) December 25, 2016

Because of the 24-second violation, which results in a dead ball violation, the Warriors were allowed by rule to make a substitution.

The "illegal" substitution was legal, then, if ultimately unfruitful, although you can't blame fans for questioning the rules down the stretch. The aforementioned review of the 24-second violation was all but unnecessary, yet it gave the Cavs time to draw up a final play that led to Irving's game winner. Then there was also the small matter of Richard Jefferson appearing to trip Kevin Durant on Golden State's final possession, which went uncalled.

KD on the final play: "I fell. And I didn't fall on my own." pic.twitter.com/34H0ISaw7r

— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 25, 2016

The Last Two Minute report on Monday should be a doozy.