Not just Celtics fans, either — or even media who cover the team or the coaching staff or front office members who look at these games with a trained eye. No matter which way you slice it, the game had major officiating problems, with the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report for the game noting a total of FIVE incorrect calls or non-calls in a critical contest that went down to the final buzzer to be decided.
And it wasn’t just this game that there were problems with.
Early in the 2022 NBA Playoffs, there were gripes that the league was calling too many fouls as games seemed to slow to a crawl with trip after trip to the free-throw line.
Then, as the whistles got scarcer, physical play ticked up, with the resulting chippy play and subsequent injuries creating a whole new realm of (justified) concern over how the play has been more dangerous in the second round.
In the Celtics-Bucks series, even Boston head coach Ime Udoka risked a fine from the league to call out the fact that he had been told by refs that “if they don’t fall down, they don’t call it.”
“I’m going to have to teach my guys to flop more,” he half-joked at what could become a dangerous precedent that could end with star players out for the rest of the season or worse, fights, and all kinds of negative outcomes.
In short, the league has an officiating problem on several levels in need of rapid attention.
The safety concerns should not take a backseat to aesthetic concerns, and striking the balance while staying as true as possible to the rulebook is no easy challenge.
And when both Udoka and Bucks GM Jon Horst both have legitimate bones to pick — Horst recently highlighted the nearly two-to-one free throw disparity between Boston and Milwaukee in Game 3 — it’s clear that this is no case of salty fans unhappy with an unfriendly whistle.
“When you start looking at the numbers, … it’s pretty outrageous,” Horst said in a recent interview with The Athletic’s Eric Nehm.
“And I think our players and Boston’s players just deserve to have it be addressed and have it be looked at and to just have some improvement … That wasn’t a quality playoff basketball game, and I think officiating played a role in that.”
Fans are growing unhappy with a system they see as both unfair and unaccountable, and while it may have considerably more training and self-policing than most fans and even media may be aware, a general lack of transparency regarding the way the NBA referees their refs isn’t helping.
It’s not uncommon for even very knowledgeable NBA writers, for example, to be unaware the league uses a very complex system to train, assess, grade, and place league referees.
But, even the teams involved in that process do not have a clear picture of how individual refs are assigned to high-profile games.
The league uses three vaguely-defined guidelines to determine who gets promoted up the ranks for higher-profile games such as take place in the postseason, writes FiveThirtyEight’s Ben Dowsett.
Without a comprehensive idea of what exactly these guidelines entail, or how they are weighted against other factors, it includes:
grading analytics compiled by game reviewers and league analysts,
specific input/rankings from each NBA team regarding individual referees, and
assessments of referees from the NBA’s developmental advisers and other top management/training staff
Want to know more? Per the author, you’re out of luck.
“The NBA steadfastly refuses to disclose (its internal review process) during any promotion or playoff assignment decisions,” suggests Dowsett.
“Multiple league staffers were also quick to point out that these three variables are not the end-all, be-all for these decisions. Important intangibles like communication and confidence are also factored in, especially for vital playoff assignments … the league will consider when selecting its 12 primary Finals officials each season.”
“This realm inspires some definite consternation in certain NBA executive circles,” he adds.
“Multiple team sources — requesting anonymity so as to avoid possible fines — told FiveThirtyEight, in essence, that they doubt the league’s truthfulness here,” continues Dowsett.
“Some believe that when it really comes down to it, vital playoff and Finals assignments are based on favoritism above all else,” relates the author, which doesn’t help yet another mini-crisis of legitimacy regarding rumors certain senior referees are deployed to extend series by calling them tight.
The solution to all the above? More consistency, and more transparency, with an eye to player safety and aesthetics, in that order.
And while it is easy enough to write about it, the processes going on behind the scenes will likely always leave some feeling dissatisfied about the refereeing outcomes in any given game or playoff series.
So long as the game is played in ways that minimize player injury and ugly play, salty fanbases will survive so long as that salt is sprinkled across the league consistently.
WWE always tells fans that the card is subject to change so it’s always possible that someone who is advertised for a show might not actually appear.
When WWE sent word out about Money In The Bank heading to Allegiant Stadium, the home of the Las Vegas Raiders, several major names were advertised. SmackDown Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey, Brock Lesnar, Charlotte Flair, Bobby Lashley, and WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns were all advertised to appear but that is no longer the case.
The original ad listed Reigns, Lesnar, Rousey, Lashley, Flair, Becky Lynch, Drew McIntyre, and Bianca Belair. The new ad features Belair, Matt Riddle, Cody Rhodes, The Miz, Rhea Ripley, The Street Profits, and Drew McIntyre.
Flair is getting married soon and she is taking time off to be with her husband Andrade El Idolo. Rousey being pulled is surprising since she is looked at as a draw and Reigns is also surprising because, as reported in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, there were three major matches planned for him this summer. Reigns was reportedly scheduled for matches against Riddle, Randy Orton, and Drew McIntyre. One of those matches may have to wait until a later date if Reigns doesn’t appear at MITB.
After missing 31 months with two major lower leg injuries, Thompson is understandably excited to be back on the big stage. If the Warriors can close out the Mavericks in Game 5, the three-time NBA champion can shimmy all night long.
Dub Nation is certainly enjoying the Warriors’ Western Conference finals performance against the Dallas Mavericks, but they might be having just as much fun getting into it with Charles Barkley ahead of home games.
Now, his fellow TNT analysts are joining in on the fun.
Before Game 5 of the series at Chase Center on Thursday, Shaquille O’Neal helped the crowd poke fun at his “Inside the NBA” co-host, who has been subjected to “Chuck you suck” chants whenever he steps foot near Thrive City.
With his microphone in hand as a makeshift baton, O’Neal honked on a Golden State-colored plastic horn as he encouraged the Barkley chant from the “Inside the NBA” outdoor set.
In another clip, O’Neal can be seen pumping his fist along to the chant and encouraging the crowd to yell even louder.
Along with O’Neal’s antics, Kenny Smith laughed that he was seated next to San Francisco’s “Public Enemy No. 1” during the pregame show — a title well-earned after Barkley called the city “hell” and has openly rooted against the Warriors throughout the West finals.
And after picking the Mavericks to advance to the NBA Finals over Golden State, Barkley on Thursday picked the Boston Celtics to win the championship. The Celtics currently hold a three-games-to-two lead over the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.