Post-game Reactions

There is a segment of Boston fans who argue—rather loudly—that the officials aided the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3, a game Cleveland won by 29 points. These fans concede Cleveland ultimately won the game because they played great basketball, but they also argue that several calls that went against Boston in the 1st and early 2nd quarters killed any chance for a Boston comeback. Even John Krolik of Cavs The Blog wrote in his Game 3 recap that the “whistles [were] not going [Boston’s] way” early in Game 3.

Some of these fans chalk the allegedly bad calls up as a coincidence; others claim they are evidence that David Stern and the NBA has fixed this series in Cleveland’s favor or in hopes that it becomes a seven-game epic.

This is, of course, a radical claim to make. 

Let’s dispense with the empty rhetoric and actually, you know, examine some of the calls and non-calls that are infuriating Boston fans:

1) KG’s first foul, 11:07, 1st quarter:


There appears to be some pretty obvious contact between Kevin Garnett’s right arm and Shaq’s head/neck/shoudler area.

To me, this is a foul. If there’s a gripe here, it’s that Paul Pierce fouled Shaq earlier in the play—and perhaps fouled him intentionally—only to have the refs allow the game to go on. KG has been a more valuable offensive player in this series than has Pierce; losing Garnett to foul trouble was probably a tougher loss for Boston to bear in Game 3.

2) KG’s first basket, 9:52:


Freeze the picture just after KG releases the ball, and it appears Jamison’s left arm definitely makes contact with KG’s shooting elbow. KG certainly thought he deserved an And-One here; he yelled at the ref as he ran back on defense.

Eh. I wonder how often this sort of contact happens and goes un-called when it really doesn’t effect the trajectory of the shot. It’s probably a foul, but I’m not outraged.

3) Non-call on Paul Pierce, 7:06:

C’s fans have a legitimate gripe here. This is a shooting foul.

4) Perk’s 2nd foul, 5:47:

Only a few of the complainers have mentioned this one, but I wanted to include it anyway. Perk goes straight up to challenge LeBron, but LBJ is agile enough to shift to his left in the air. Perk appears to bump LeBron at the hip level as LBJ is airborne. I have no problem with this call.

5) KG’s 2nd foul, 5:10 (Note: slow-mo starts at about :20)

This is one of the two or three calls that has everyone furious, and it undoubtedly changed the momentum of the game. Boston was down 18-8 when KG went out after this call; they were down 43-25 when he returned.

Honestly? I don’t get the outrage. To my eyes, KG makes contact with Jamison’s arm when the pass comes in and again with Jamison’s chest as Jamison is falling to the floor.

I wouldn’t bet everything I own that KG made contact with Jamison on the catch; it’s difficult to tell even on slow-mo, but I’m pretty sure he did. And he clearly knocks Jamison in the chest later in the play.

Would some officials have ignored the latter contact, with Jamison already stumbling? Maybe.

But this is happening in full speed, and if you can’t understand why officials watching this play—at full speed—thought there was a foul here, I don’t know what to tell you.

Side note: The refs could have whistled Ray instead of KG here, though it looks to me like Allen misses Jamison when swiping for the ball. So both of KG’s early fouls could have gone to other players. It happens. It’s called bad luck.

6) 4:58: Rondo posts up Mo Williams:

There is a lot of contact here, and fans are angry Rondo didn’t get the call in light of a play that happened about a minute after this one (we’ll get there shortly).

Look closely, though, and it appears that Rondo initiates a lot of this contact. Mo is bodying him up, but he’s allowed to have one forearm on Rondo’s back. It’s Rajon that knocks Mo with his left arm to create a little space (and a little contact). And it’s Rajon that leans in to try and create more contact on the shot.

Is there contact? Yes. Does Mo keep his body vertical? I’d argue he does.

You can tell Rondo is upset with the no-call; he glares at the ref after the shot goes in.

And I get why he’s mad. This is one of those 50/50 calls that offensive players get sometimes. But that’s the thing: It’s a 50/50 call. It’s not a no-brainer blown call, at least not to my eyes.

7) 3:54: Ray Allen “fouls” Antawn Jamison:

This foul came 64 seconds after the no-call on Mo Williams at the other end, so you can understand the grumbling.

To me, this is another 50/50 call. I’m pretty confident Ray Allen’s lower body/left arm bumps Jamison here. It’s not a big bump, and it doesn’t really disrupt Jamison’s shot. But there is contact. Sometimes a shooter gets this call, sometimes he doesn’t.

This time he did.

You can see a theme developing here: The 50/50 calls mostly went the Cavs way early; even John Krolik admitted as much in his recap. But this kind of stuff happens in NBA games. These plays happens at full speed, and refs are generally doing the best job they can on each individual play. The game is moving so fast and demands so much concentration that I don’t think refs are thinking of a call or non-call that happened two minutes ago while they decide whether the thing that is happening in front of them right now is a foul.

Also: I could easily find you a half-dozen examples from the 1st quarter alone of little bumps that could have, in theory, been called fouls on Boston. They are there; I saw them when I re-watched the 1st quarter. If anything, watching every possession for an eye toward possible foul calls just reinforces how difficult it is to officiate an NBA game. There is contact everywhere, all the time. Sussing out the real fouls is not easy.

To me, this is a case of not getting the breaks/calls and not a case of something more.

8. Big Baby’s illegal screen (3:40):

A big momentum changer, as it negated a Ray Allen three-pointer, and another legit gripe for C’s fans.

If there is one call/non-call decision that constantly infuriates me, it’s the illegal screen call. I wonder what percentage of NBA screens technically qualify as illegal by the letter of the law. How many screeners truly remain stationary for the duration of the screen?

That’s what makes this call against Baby tough to swallow. Does Davis move his left arm ever so slightly as Mo Williams runs by him? Yes, he does, though it’s hard to tell even in slow-motion whether he moves his arm as Williams makes contact with it or before Williams makes contact with it. But there are a dozen screens every game that are as “illegal” as this one. Perhaps Davis doesn’t help himself here by spreading his feet so wide apart, a strange-looking stance that may have caught the ref’s eye.

But I checked the NBA rulebook, and there is nothing in there about the width of a screener’s stance or how much space he can take up in a scenario like this one.

9) LBJ swats Big Baby into Bolivian (10:34, 2nd):

One commenter called this non-call the coup de grace. It certainly looks bad at full speed. We’ve got a violent LBJ arm swing and a large man subsequently falling to the floor. Perhaps a player of lesser stature gets whistled here.

But look at that clip again. That’s not just slow-motion; it’s my DVR’s slow-motion version of a slow-motion TV replay. It’s super slow-mo.

And you know what? Even in super slow-mo, I still wouldn’t bet my life savings that LeBron’s arm ever touches anything but the basketball. Would you? Here’s a still from the offending moment, when LBJ’s arm may have hit Baby’s after the initial contact with the ball:

There does appear to be some contact; Baby’s momentum clearly plunges a bit downward on LeBron’s follow through. How easy was that to see in real time? I have no idea.

But I would disagree with those who have characterized this play as LeBron “slamming” Glen Davis to the ground. To my eyes, that’s not what happened here. Still: It’s probably a missed call.

Add all of this up, and you can see why C’s fans are upset. Most of the 50/50 calls early in the game went Cleveland’s way. Even Cavs fans would probably concede that.

But most of them are 50/50 calls—judgement calls that are difficult to make in an instant and impossible to get right every time. (Hell, I’ve watched slow-mo replays of these plays a dozen times and I’m still not sure what the right call is on some of them). That’s bad luck, the sort of luck that evens out over time. It’s not evidence of a dark conspiracy against one of the league’s marquee teams—a TV ratings powerhouse the league never minds seeing late in the post-season.

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Zach Lowe

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  • Dan

    Another point you left out: the game was ref’d by Bennett Salvatore, as straight a shooter as they…. oh wait.

  • Jon

    i’m tired of the fixed NBA crap. it’s a shame issues with officiating have occured. and there are plenty of conspiracies on david stern. but it’s doesn’t excuse a 30 point loss in the playoffs. this falls on the celtics. sure the NBA is a superstar league. even stern has to admit that players like lebron and kobe get calls. but so does paul pierce. pierce has made a living getting questionable calls with his awkward body movements and his immaculate ability to draw contact. drawing fouls has become part of the game. and if everyone’s so convinced that the NBA’s fixed then stop watching.

    more importantly, what doest the Hub think about the possible LBJ convering Rondo stuff? is it getting blown out of proportion? it doesn’t seem like brown is going to have his best scorer chase the fastest guy on the court for 40 minutes.

  • @Jon:

    Agreed on most counts. As far as LBJ guarding Rondo, I’m skeptical that we’ll see very much of it. In the Bulls series, I recall LBJ guarding Rose only at the end of one game (maybe two), and that LBJ was pretty effective at it. Rose got by him, but James was able to alter shots from behind/the side because of his height and leaping ability.

  • Mike

    Zach I think the point that you and most people are missing is that regardless of all these conspiracy theories, the referees are just plain bad. You are right, it’s highly unlikely that they are actually fixing games. And bad calls of course happen. But the number of atrocious calls that happen each and every game is simply inexcusable. Some of the refs are simply too old to keep up with the action anymore, and some of them have CLEAR biases that disrupt the flow of the game. They have been terrible for years and nothing has changed. I don’t care if you guys buy into these conspiracy theories, but I’d think you would have to concede that the officiating is bad and some changes need to happen.

  • On the Glen Davis block, you have to realize that a player’s reputation influences the calls he gets (or does’t get) to a very large degree, and Big Baby gets EVERYTHING blocked when he tries to finish at the rim. On his illegal screen, he quite clearly widens his stance as the player runs at him.

    I really wish you had concentrated on the flurry of Cavs calls / Celtics non-calls at the very beginning of the game instead of just picking and choosing the questionable ones. Those can be chalked up to being 50/50 calls or human error or whatever. The beginning of the game sent a definite message that the Celtics would have an uphill battle to try and win and you can’t help but wonder if they mentally gave up because they didn’t want to expend the energy they would have to use to stay in the game at that point.

  • JP

    I agree that the story here should have been about LBJ guarding Rondo. That could make a huge impact on the game, if it actually happened. I doubt Mike Brown will do it, but I think like Zach said about LBJ on Rose, Lebron can change the shot. The difference is that Rondo doesn’t really need to take the shot at the rim like Rose does, since Rose is the Bulls entire offense. Rondo can kick out or attempt a floater or stop on a dime and do a fake. It would be a fun matchup to watch. I bet LeBron would foul Rondo hard and try to rattle him early.

  • Mike

    And also Zach im not really sure what you are seeing on the Big Baby play. LeBron very clearly hacks his arm, and you can even see Babys arm snap back on the contact. It’s pretty clear cut to me

  • @Mike: I did write that this is “probably a missed call” and that there “appears to be contact there” and even that Baby’s momentum “plunges downward” upon that contact.

    I’m pretty sure they blew this call, yeah. But I’ve got the best possible angle and super slow-mo to help me out. What if I’m seeing this from the baseline and Mo Williams gets in my field of vision or something? That’s all I’m saying.

    Oh, and there is a post on LeBron guarding Rondo coming up.

  • jason

    Two things. First, regarding the Lebron foul on Davis – that foul is generally called on sound, not sight. Slapping skin sounds much sharper then hitting ball, which is has more bass. You hear slap, blow the whistle. You hear thud, let it go.
    Second, since every play has a 50/50 situation where something could conceivably be a foul, it lends itself to manipulation. Even Donaghy said his entire method of manipulating games was to take those moments and make sure a specific team got the whistles. NBA games aren’t fixed, but they are certainly weighed in certain teams’ favor.
    But in the Donaghy aftermath, there is far more transparency, so I’m sure Col Johnson will address this type of speculation…oh wait, that’s right – he’s never spoken to the press since his hiring. Guess Stern forgot to put his hand in the puppet.

  • Jason

    I think you’re trying too hard to not seem like a homer. In an effort to be balanced you’ve swung the other way. KG’s 2nd foul was a terrible call, plain and simple. I do think the refs had a huge impact on early momentum. The C’s lost because they were terrible in game 3. But we’ve seen them turn things around after looking really bad (i.e. Lakers, Finals 2008) so I think its too simplistic to just say ‘we would ahve lost anyway’.

    On the topic of potential conspiracies etc., I don’t understand why everyone was so quick to dismiss Donaghy’s claims. The most common reason was ‘because he’s a criminal’ or a jerk. Did we not learn anything from Canseco and the steroid era. Everyone dismissed Canseco because he is a doosh and a jerk etc. but ultimately he was right on just about everything he said.

    Then there are the stats for referees that Simmons always talks about (i.e.the Mavs being 2-14 when one particular ref does their games).

    Just too many inconsistencies to blame it solely on poor refereeing.

  • YOu really think the 2nd KG foul is an obviously “terrible” call? I just don’t see it that way, at all.

  • RBD


    Nice job. There are a couple of calls that could have gone the other way, but I think you really can’t argue there’s an agenda there unless you have one of your own. Amazing how many times we can re-watch a play and still be unsure whether it’s a foul. It’s a tough game to officiate.

    As with the 9-11 conspiracies, and so on and so forth, the conspiracy crowd usually selectively picks their evidence, makes wild claims the evidence doesn’t back up, and ignores counter- arguments (like, for example, all the calls that go Boston’s way that Cleveland fans have a right to complain about).

    The big problems with officiating in the league are limited uses of replay (we need more), transparency (we need more) and the lack of trust the fanbase shows towards the officiating (solving the first two fixes this one).

  • Matt

    Excellent post Zach… my only point of disagreement is the Lebron/Davis play. Any player wearing a white jersey gets whistled for that, in my opinion.

    But, nice work going over the calls. It was frustrating, but lets not get carried away and call conspiracy.

  • RBD

    Let me tag one more piece onto my post.

    We do have a problem with the stars getting too many benefit-of-the-doubt calls. That’s one area I’d love to see cleaned up. As if that’ll happen.

  • Jason

    Two other Jasons posting that aren’t me. Hmmm.

    Anyway, bottom line is that there being so many 50/50 calls in the first place is the problem. A huge one.

    Basically, you are saying a coin officiates NBA games no worse than three paid, trained officials. Isn’t that pretty awful? If it’s a foul, it’s always a foul and if not, then not. Half the time a foul and half the time not is flat out epic fail. But that’s what this league offers its players and fans. Pretty f-ing disgusting.

  • DRJ1

    Zach, you clearly bent over backwards in each play to try to fit each call into the “normal variance” of humans calling a fast-paced game. You can do that for one play. When you do it for a whole series of them, you can get lost in the forest for the trees. Further, slowing down a play to super slow motion actually makes it LESS clear, not more, because changes in momentum are much more difficult to see.

    It’s late, and this is old news for me already… and I can’t bring myself to re-review this game and each case. Suffice it to say that in total, the refs stacked their calls in the first quarter+ against the Celtics. I think you agree with that, more or less. They gave up, and that’s certainly on them. But… they gave up for 3 reasons:

    (a) the Cavs were super-hot, hitting practically every piece of junk they threw up, (b) the Cs were very cold in the beginning of this game, and (c) the refs were sticking it to them. Faced with that impossible-to-overcome combination, yeah they gave up. Yeah, they shouldn’t have. And yeah, I probably would have too. They recognized they were not going to win that game… even if they tried, the refs were there to guarantee the Cavs win (or that’s the way it felt).

    I like what Mike said: the overriding point is that the refs are very, very bad in this league. And not just in game 3… they were terrible (if not clearly biased) in game 4 too… and in most games.

    As to the commenter who asked why we watch if that’s the way we feel — good question. Excellent question. The KEY question, in fact. Why do we? I think many fans have quit in the past. And many more will quit in the future. Personally… if I get the clear impression that the referees stole a series from the Celtics in this postseason… I will be one of them. The total is probably easily a 7-digit number by now, if not 8.

    Your question is that perfect.

  • Cptn Bubbles

    The real problem is the lack of ref review by an objective, transparent source. Just about every job out there has a system of sensible review & appraisal. Refs are going to make mistakes, but are there some refs who make more mistakes, too many mistakes? There should be a system set up to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    The nba could afford to have each game reviewed by an independent panel. Since we now have these things called “computers”, records could be kept on mistakes which would reflect a refs ability to learn from his mistakes & to better control any bias. Footage to learn by could be sent to each ref as an ongoing continuing education experience (since no ref knows it all & every ref could be better). The refs who don’t pay attention & improve would be sent to Siberia, I mean the D leagues. The refs who were the most correct & objective would receive playoff games or even bonuses for getting it right. Positive reinforcement for a job well done.

    The problem is the refs are in a union to battle change & fair review. They go by the, “if they get rid of Crawford then you could be next” mentality instead of let’s have reviews & get better at what we do. If there is bias let’s find it & fix it. Let’s make the game we love better. No, the refs are not having any of that. The refs have way too much power, & what is most important to them is job security, not better basketball.

    Think of how good our refs could become through constantly learning how to improve & receiving credit + bonuses for a job well done. Maybe even have a system of instant replay for the last 2 minutes of the game with coaches challenges to prove to the fans that the “nba cares” & is trying very hard to get it right. I love the nfl because of the coaches challenges & the use of replay. It makes the nfl look smart & just while our nba labors on struggling in the dark ages of continual controversy.

  • RBD

    @Cptn Bubbles –

    I’ve suggested the coach’s being able to challenge calls before, similar to tennis. Seems like something they could, at minimum, try out in the preseason.

    I think the NBA must do some of what you suggest in terms of review and performance management but, of course, it’s not public knowledge. And that’s where I concur with you – some sort of public arbiter, independent of Camp Stern, would really go a long ways towards eliminating the suspicions.

  • Ben

    just came across this…
    Red on Roundball


    I can’t get enough of these. I wonder how Red would feel about Verajao (see- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Hs06oyMT_E )…

  • Berkcelt

    I think there’s a lot of good points made in the comments. A lot of people get huffy about others trying to blame the refs, but the fact is when you’ve got a guy like Donaghy convicted of what he did, and rumors and a long accepted history of biased officiating as a norm (I’m just talking your basic rookie/star calls etc), then I think it’s pretty natural to think in that direction. I don’t like the perception, but I myself wonder about it sometimes, and I wonder how I could ever keep watching it if I really believed it was a sham. Personally I think Stern is going to have to leave before the perception (and maybe even more sadly, the performance) gets better.

    As for the calls, the one on Pierce (3) is the one that gets me. Jamison just hip checks him in mid-air and Parker may have gotten him from behind. It’s not really difficult to see that. What made it was worse, was that it of course led to the flagrant on Perk which I thought was a big momentum shift, from possibly 10-10 to 14-8. At the time I thought that was just a hard foul, but since I was told I was living in the ’80s, I say fine my mistake, but I am still a little confused because when Rondo was hip-checked out of the air by Shaq a couple games before it was just a good hard playoff foul.

    I was definitely upset in that first quarter, but of course the C’s pitiful effort that followed dwarfed any ref-angst with its own accompanying disgust.

  • Brett

    50/50 calls? Seriously? Big Baby was HACKED. Obvious in real time, obvious in slow motion. Focus on Big Baby’s arm: as LBJ swipes at him, there is a violent reversal of his arm, consistent with someone hitting the arm, not the ball. This is a technique taught in many sports when defending: hit the elbow or the forearm to affect the shot. Refs at this level should be able to call this. I did as I watched the game.

    I am tired of the media – mainstream and otherwise – not calling attention to this nonsense. To any casual observer of the game in real time who has watched the nba in recent years games are largely determined by refs. Commissioner David McMahon (or is it Vince Stern?) has an agenda which we might have benefitted from in 2008.

    Those calls in the first quarter and a half absolutely determined game three. It is admirable that you try for objectivity. But the Truth is staring you in the face. The NBA = the WWE.

  • RBD


    The calls didn’t determine game three. The Celtics phoning in a playoff game did. I know it doesn’t fit your conspiracy narrative but there’s a lot more evidence the game was decided by the players rather than the refs.

    Seriously though – what’s with the masochism? If you think the NBA is the WWE, stop watching.

  • DRJ1

    Since this seems like an occasionally serious discussion of NBA refereeing… let me add my 2 cents on the best solution. It’s pretty simple, actually. Just have a video referee (or two), with the power to override ANY on-court call. With the tech we have today, replays are instantaneous and zero time would be lost. That ref could get an extra few seconds if he needs it, but in general, he must override — or make a de novo call himself — before the next official on-court event occurs.

    You wouldn’t necessarily even have to add any more bodies, since you could reduce the number of on-court refs by one. And the technology is all built into every arena already.

    So what’s the problem? This could be done instantly. All that’s needed is a decision to do it. Just like that, we would get near-perfect calls every time. There are actually much fewer 50-50 calls than you intimated. Most are quite clear with the help of replay.

    All the fans would be satisfied. My guess is millions of disaffected ones would return. The NBA would get richer. And it would cease being the most reviled and derided of all major sports.

    So what’s the problem? Why DON’T they do this?

  • Chris B

    Regarding the LBJ no call on Big Baby:
    When I watched this play during the game, I was outraged that there was no whistle. Now, having seen it in super-slow-mo, I agree with the non-call. This play demonstrates everything that is wrong with Glen Davis. He sees LBJ closing in on him and starts to fade to the side before LBJ even arrives. I’m pretty sure he would have missed the shot just because he was intimidated by LBJ’s presence. It’s a tough spot for Baby, but I suspect Leon Powe would have found a way to finish or draw a foul in this situation.

  • cam

    Ok so it looks like not most but all the 50 50 calls went against us. All of the non calls went their way and not ours. The way you are picking apart these plays you could make a case for just about any play to be a foul if there is contact whatsoever and vice versa. The problem was inconsistency by the refs not sometimes losing the 50 50 calls. Not to mention didn’t all those calls pretty much come ib the first quarter? When there are 50 50 calls early in the game like that I would hope that the refs would be a little more conservative and not just call all of them against us if they are in fact what you claim 50 50 calls

  • Anthony

    Cant really comment on Game 3 since I didnt watch it but the real issue is the incosistencies of the refs. I understand bad calls because its a fast pace game but it’s pretty clear the Celts dont get the favorable calls the way the Cavs do. Celts have been the more aggressive team (not including Game 3) but yet they are a minus 10 FT in game 1 and a minus 20 FT in Game 2. And again, if anyone saw game 2, there is a possession where Mo Williams literally jumps into Sheed, flops and gets the call. This was in transition at about midcourt, and Mo is smiling at after the call. It was seriously a “Are you kidding me?? call”. Mo Williams flops worse than Derek Fisher, better yet Tyrus Thomas, yet he gets the call. Some calls/flops are plain obvious and that’s what’s so frustrating. Its the playoff, let them play. If you’re going to call ticky tack fouls on the Celts, call them on the Cavs too. Be consistent!! Lastly, if Lebron do somehow with his miraculous elbow recovery guard Rondo, no calls will be made since he’s the big star and everyone came to watch him. I can safely guarantee Lebron will not be in foul trouble even if he hacks at Rondo all game. Finally someone made Lebron look stupid with his chase down block. The Rondo behind the back pass to T. Allen while Lebron blocks thin air was simply amazing. Lets just hope the Celts can severely outplay the Cavs that all the bad calls wont matter. Even in Game 2, leading by 25, the bad calls almost got the Cavs back into it.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    couldn’t agree more….its a tough game ot call and it usually evens out.

    but you better not be expecting a christmas card from Tommy Heinsohn

  • Q

    Yeah, one every play in the NBA there’s enough contact that you can always make a more-or-less tenous case for a call or non-call. And when you include referee’s lines of sight and simple human error, of course no single play is evidence of referee bias. But when 18 of 20 coin flips come up heads, it’s reasonable to wonder if the coin is biased. And for the frist two and a half games of the series, it appears that nearly all the 50/50 calls went the Cav’s way.

    If you want to make a convincing case (for or against bias, really) you need to look at every play with a potential foul call, and — using the same standards at each end — rate the call as correct or not (or too close to tell, if you want). Now if the errors and close calls are all in the same direction, that’s some evidence of bias, whereas if they aren’t, that’s pretty good evidence of equal treatment.

    But cherry-picking two or three calls and saying “Well, it’s conceivable that a fair ref would have made this call” (especially without comparing the calls to other calls being made in the same game), really doesn’t say much.

  • Hey Zach,

    I’m a Spurs fan, even if I always enjoy hearing your analysis on the game. You’re completely right about most of these plays you showed being “50/50” calls. They ARE judgment calls and it is a case of bad luck that they went against your Celtics. However, every single video you posted, showed the 50/50 call going against the Celtics.

    Watching, I don’t think that any of these calls by themselves are weird. They happen all the time in the NBA and they usually even out over the course of the game. What’s weird is that every 50/50 call that you showed was in the Cavs favor. Isn’t that the issue? Whenever there was a judgment call, the Cavs benefited.

  • You make yourselves look like homers when you claim the Celts “never get calls.” It’s different from game to game: sometimes Pierce lives at the free throw line and the Celts can set all the moving screens they want, other times it’s the opposite.

    Joey Crawford is the lead official for tonight’s game, btw.

  • Chris O

    The problem with this 50/50 call’s theory is that ALMOST all of them went Cleveland’s way…ummmm doesn’t that make them nto 50/50???

  • Ross in Maine

    Wow. I’ve been holding off commenting on this post … simply because I just don’t have the energy or patients to articulately and professionally mount a convincing argument to the Zach Lowes, Jons, and RBDs of the world! All I can say is I’ve watched thousands upon thousands of hours of NBA games over the past 25 years, played basketball, coached basketball and Love Basketball. The officiating slant, regardless of where it’s coming from, is obvious to me.
    @ Vigilant, Mike, Jason, DRJ1, Brett, Cam; Right on! I think you guys nailed it, I won’t re-state.

    @Zach: the above mentioned sounds exactly like every athlete, B-ball fan and sports bar frequenter I’ve ever met. Your post sounds like a sports writer trying not to wreck their professional career and playing it safe. Which I guess is better than the alternative: an adult who still thinks that WWE wrestling is real.
    You do deserve a hat tip for the work you put into this post, and I thank you.

    I’ll leave readers with this one amusing thought: 15,000 fans chanting “Bull Shit” to the refs might, in fact, actually mean something.

  • NYCCelticsFAN

    I absolutely agree with many other staunch Celtics fans about the ref calls asisting the Cavs in this one. Actually, the convo in our home during the game was: “Really? Really? Is the Commissioner talking to the refs before the game to have the series go to 7?” C’mon! Some of those calls were absurd.

  • Anthony

    I think the key point is still consistency. If you dont make a slap to the hand a foul on one end, dont call it on the other. Kinda like an umpire and the pitcher. You cant extend the strike zone for one and not the other. For everytime Garnett steps out on a pick, Varaejo does it 2-3 times as much. How many cheap elbow does Vareajo make? Im not saying I’m not a little biased because Im a Celticss fan, but so many of the calls are clearly in the Cavs favor.