|National view: Media backs Celtics’ criticism of Game 1 referees||05.29.12 at 4:34 pm ET|
Entering Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night, the buzz surrounded names like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. By the end of the game, though, the spotlight turned toward referees Dan Crawford and Ed Malloy.
Crawford and Malloy raised eyebrows with their questionable technical foul calls that went against the Celtics, particularly in the second quarter. By the end of the game, the Celtics were whistled for five technical foul calls while the Heat were not called for any.
ESPN basketball analyst Stephen A. Smith was one who voiced his concerns over the game’s officiating, noting that Ray Allen in particular did not do enough to earn a technical foul.
“Don’t tell me that [Crawford] would just arbitrarily decide, ‘I’m going to give Ray Allen a tech for saying no and turning away,’ ” Smith said. “That’s got to be something that’s coming from the league. It makes no sense to me.
“For an official to give you a technical over something like that, to say it’s egregious is a gross understatement. They really, really need to fall back. It is ridiculous.”
Another one of the technical foul calls Monday night was a team technical foul for delay of game after Garnett tapped the ball behind the baseline following a second-quarter field goal.
Even the Florida media questioned that call, as Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel wrote: “A delay-of-game technical foul on the Celtics in the first half of a playoff game, really?”
The technical fouls did not end there, as Doc Rivers was later called for a technical for yelling “Come on, Ed” at Malloy. Rivers complained about the call in the postgame press conference, calling it “the worst [he has] ever had.”
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.com recognized that Rivers’ comments will probably warrant a fine from the league for the public criticism of the officiating. However, Wojnarowski seemed to side with Rivers for making the statement, writing, “[Rivers will] have earned a fine for telling the truth about one of commissioner David Stern’s referees.”
Various athletes took exception to the game’s officiating as well and used Twitter to share their opinions on the matter.
Patriots receiver Deion Branch tweeted during the game: The refs are getting a raise for these calls and we all know who’s paying them.
While many were upset with the officiating, the Heat outscored the Celtics by 14, and Boston did not appear to have an answer for the Heat’s two stars. Billy Witz of Fox Sports Florida recognized the mass criticism of the referees after the game but noted that “criticizing the officials and mucking up the game appears to be one of Boston’s best options, maybe their only ones.”
Witz has a point, as the Celtics did not shoot well throughout the game, ending with a dismal 39.5 shooting percentage and a 52.4 free throw percentage.
The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson echoed a similar thought as he wrote about the Celtics’ poor shooting instead of the questionable officiating.
“Fact is, there’s no way Boston can compete in this series with Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen shooting as errantly as they did in Game 1,” Jackson wrote.
If the Celtics can’t shoot well enough to compete with the Heat, they are going to have to play better defensively. Rondo suggested the team has to play more physical in Game 2, saying: “Nothing dirty, but those guys have got to hit the deck, too.”
But as David Whitley of Sporting News noted, “Even if Boston’s defense goes WWE in Game 2, there’s still the issue of points.”
Many, such as Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated, decided to shine the spotlight on Rondo as the Celtic who needs to perform better, because he should have the most left in the tank of Boston’s Big Four. While Rondo certainly is not the best shooter of the starters, Rondo is the quickest and will be called upon because of his youth and health.
“The wear and tear, the reverberating impact of the lockout and five enervating years of extended contention have combined with the obstinacy of the Heat to leave the Celtics with one hope,” Thomsen wrote. “They need Rondo to outplay everybody in his path.”