Irish Coffee: Are referees screwing the Celtics?
|11.22.10 at 12:32 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
In remembrance of the 47th anniversary of John F. Kennedy‘s assassination — and in the wake of the two worst officiated games of the Celtics season — we’ll examine an NBA conspiracy theory: Are the C’s getting screwed by the referees?
“You answer that,” Celtics head coach Doc Rivers told MSNBC.com. “I need my money, I have four kids. I’ll let you answer that. I didn’t see anything.”
Now, let’s get one thing straight: The Celtics deserved to lose to the Kevin Durant-less Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors. They coasted through both games like Rasheed Wallace sleepwalked through the entire 2009-10 regular season and should’ve won each game by double digits.
Still, after two absolutely terrible calls in the final seconds against the Raptors — the Ray Allen “forced” turnover and the Paul Pierce “blocking” foul — it’s worth taking a look at how the Celtics are being treated by the referees (Tommy Heinsohn, of course, might say “like a rented mule”).
Statistically speaking, the Celtics have been called for more personal fouls (292) than their opponents (278) in addition to attempting fewer free throws (295) than their opposition (335).
Given that the Celtics have led 11 of their 13 games in the final two minutes, when teams are purposely fouling in an attempt to make a comeback — you’d think that both those numbers would be flipped around in the C’s favor. At the very least, they should be much closer to an even split.
However, the C’s have only attempted more free throws than their opponent four times in 13 games. On two of those occasions — against the Milwaukee Bucks and Memphis Grizzlies — the opposition intentionally put the Celtics at the free throw line 10 times apiece at the end of regulation and overtime.
While other teams have shot five or more free throw attempts than the Celtics on five occasions, the C’s have only outshot an opponent at the free throw line once — an OT victory against the Bulls at home. For future reference, Tom Washington headed the officiating crew for that game.
Want to hear something really spooky? The Celtics’ lowest free throw total and one of their biggest free throw discrepancies of the season — a 20-7 margin in favor of Dallas during a two-point Mavericks win — one of the referees was … wait for it, wait for it … a Kennedy.
It was Bill Kennedy to be exact. Yup, the same Bill Kennedy who has had a long, tumultuous history with Celtics head coach Doc Rivers.
Is it just Kennedy who has a score to settle with Rivers, or are there other officials on the grassy knoll contributing as well?
WORST LOSS EVER
The back-to-back losses to the Durant and Jeff Green-less Thunder and Raptors could possibly be the worst two-game stretch since Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett arrived.
In 2007-08, the Celtics only lost consecutive games three times, including just one three-game losing streak. None of those stretches came in the first three months of the season.
The following year, during an injury-plagued 2008-09 season, the C’s only lost consecutive games four times (none before Christmas), which included a four-game losing streak in January.
Last season, in total, the Celtics lost back-to-back games 10 times (including four three-game losing streaks) — the first of which came in mid-November.
Their worst performance last season came in back-to-back losses to the Clippers (29-53) and Warriors (26-56). While that was pretty awful, it came on back-to-back nights during a four-game road trip that started on Christmas and took them through Florida, California and Arizona.
The bench was supposed to infuse this year’s team with enough energy to help them avoid losing streaks like they suffered last season. In their past two losses, however, the Celtics bench has been outscored by undermanned opponents, as a result of the Thunder’s Durant/Green injuries and the Raptors’ Jarrett Jack trade.
Could it be a 2009-10 regular season all over again? I thought this Celtics team would be hungrier after its loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals.
So far this season, the Celtics are 0-2 in games they finish without a healthy Rajon Rondo. However, for fans looking for a glimmer of hope should Rondo not play against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night, the C’s actually possess a winning record (5-4) since 2007-08 without Rondo in the starting lineup.
Here’s a look at the games he’s missed since taking over the starting point guard position (and how the backup did in his place) …
Dec. 30: Celtics 110, Lakers 91 (Tony Allen: 16 points, 4 assists, 4 turnovers, 3 rebounds, 1 steal)
Jan. 12: Wizards 85, Celtics 78 (Allen: 8 points, 0 assists, 4 turnovers, 6 rebounds, 4 steals)
Jan. 16: Celtics 100, Blazers 90 (Eddie House: 10 points, 5 assists, 2 turnovers, 4 rebounds, 1 steal)
Jan. 18: Celtics 116, 76ers 89 (House: 15 points, 4 assists, 2 turnovers, 4 rebounds, 1 steal)
April 16: Celtics 105, Nets 94 (Sam Cassell: 9 points, 4 assists, 0 turnovers, 0 rebounds, 0 steals)
March 8: Magic 86, Celtics 79 (Stephon Marbury: 4 points, 0 assists, 3 turnovers, 1 rebound, 0 steals)
March 11: Heat 107, Celtics 99 (Marbury: 0 points, 4 assists, 2 turnovers, 0 rebounds, 2 steals)
Jan. 2: Celtics 103, Raptors 96 (Allen: 14 points, 7 assists, 3 turnovers, 5 rebounds, 1 steal)
Nov. 21: Raptors 102, Celtics 101 (Nate Robinson: 22 points, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 4 rebounds, 0 steals)
Robinson is the best scoring option off the bench in Rondo’s stead, but what the Celtics really need is a guy to continue running the offense as a distributor (Delonte West?). In three of the C’s four losses without Rondo in the lineup, his replacement failed to dish out more than two assists.
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)