Don't jump down my throat for writing this post. I just think that it has become apparent to just about anybody who has watched 5 minutes of these playoffs that the refs are playing as big if not a bigger role than the players. Now, I'm not trying to imply that playing good basketball, tough defense and effective offense are no longer necessary to win games. I'm just saying that refereeing can take an otherwise even game and make it lopsided. Anyways, let's check the stats.
During the 09-10 regular season, the Celtics averaged 22.1 personal fouls a game. During the 2010 playoffs, they have averaged 25 (24.9) personal fouls a game. That doesn't seem too significant until you break it down by series - in the first round, the Celtics averaged 18.1 personal fouls per game. That's a full 7 fouls off the playoff average. Against the Cavs in the Conference Semis, that number went up a full 9 fouls to 27.2 per game. Are you telling me that the Celtics played less physically against Miami? Please. Now I'd give you a little write up of the Magic series but the guys over at Bleacher Report did a better job than I possibly could. Read Up.
Now this brings us to the Finals. So far, it has been another display in game-changing refereeing. In Game 1, both Ray Allen and Paul Pierce had 5 fouls - and they were called early and often. This rendered both players ineffective in the game, as they had to spend most of the game on the bench. Compare that to the Lakers - who only had Lamar Odom in foul trouble with 5 fouls. And it's not like Odom plays a big role now with Bynum and Gasol playing in front of him. In Game 2, Kobe Bryant got in foul trouble early and spent most of the game playing pretty soft as a result. This allowed Ray Allen to run free and pour in 8 three pointers, leading the Celtics to victory. In Game 3 (which just concluded), Garnett, Pierce, and Rondo were all in foul trouble from the outset, while Kobe had 0 fouls until midway through the 3rd quarter. Many of the fouls called against the Celtics were incredibly questionable, including many slight touch fouls (I'm thinking of a foul called on Rajon Rondo where he supposedly "hit" Kobe's elbow. I'd say it was less of a hit and more of a...well nothing. He didn't touch him.
So what does this tell us? Well, I think it says this. In the Miami series, the NBA wanted the Celtics to move on. In the Cleveland series, the NBA wanted to see Lebron advance (preferably to the Finals against Kobe). Against the Magic, they wanted to see Dwight Howard get a rematch of last year's finals (and at least to extend the series to 6 or 7 games). And now, the NBA clearly wants the Lakers to win but wants the series to go as long as possible. We will wait to see how this plays out, but I'm willing to bet anything the refs continue to dictate the flow of this series.
If you wanna read a little more on this, check this link out .
P.S. Kobe went 10 for 29 tonight. That's almost exactly 34% shooting. Fuck if my coach didn't pull me off the court every time i missed 5 straight shots I could be as good as Kobe Bryant too.