National view: Officiating is center of debate again in Celtics’ loss
|05.31.12 at 4:18 pm ET|
One game after the officiating was a hot topic of debate for five questionable technical fouls called on the Celtics in their Game 1 loss to the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, Wednesday’s Game 2 was filled with controversy caused by missed calls and free throw disparities.
The biggest missed call in question occurred in overtime. With under two minutes remaining and the game tied at 105-105, Rajon Rondo drove the lane and went up for a layup, but was knocked in the head by Dwyane Wade.
The referees didn’t blow their whistles and missed the call as Rondo sat on the floor holding his head. The Heat quickly took advantage, converted a dunk on the other end and never looked back as momentum completely swung to their side and they secured the win.
“I don’t know how you miss that one,” ESPN basketball analyst Tim Legler said. “There has to be an official on the baseline. You have a guy driving to the rim, you know that you’re anticipating contact as an official. [When] you get raked across the eye on a layup, it has to be called. It’s that simple. They missed it.”
CBSSports.com NBA blogger Royce Young also chimed in on the play. While he agreed that it was a clear missed call, he was also defensive of the officials.
“Referees miss calls. It happens,” Young wrote. “Nobody wants to hear that and it certainly doesn’t give Boston two points, but in the flow of an NBA game, something that moves really, really fast, sometimes an official doesn’t get it right.
“It’s not like they don’t want to. It’s not like they were thinking, ‘Eh, it’s Wade. Let it go.’ They want to do their job perfectly. It just doesn’t happen.”
Even Brian Windhorst, the Heat beat writer for ESPN.com, was critical of the missed call. He took to Twitter moments after Wade converted on a 3-point play to give the Heat a five-point lead.
“Great play by Wade but I’m feeling a little sick about that missed foul on Rondo. And I’m a staunch defender of officials as followers know,” Windhorst tweeted.
The criticism of NBA referees also crossed leagues to the NFL, as Falcons receiver Roddy White tweeted his displeasure: “That’s nba officiating for you right there rondo gets fouled and no call but touch lebron and it’s a foul.”
The missed call on Rondo’s drive wasn’t the only call in question in the overtime period. With about one minute left and the Heat up by two, Wade drove the lane and converted on an “and-one” as Kevin Garnett pushed his arm. But replays showed that Wade kicked his foot out at the same time that Garnett hit his arm.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman pointed out that the calls that were made and missed is just how the NBA is.
“Plenty of other calls were made and missed. That’s the NBA and the human element of officiating,” Winderman wrote. “If one play is so crucial, then make a stop on the other end.
“Sure the Heat got a heck of a break on the non-call on Wade’s foul, but the Heat never stopped attacking and the aggressor tends to get the benefit.”
Another point of discussion was the free throw disparity between the two teams. For the game, the Heat took 47 free throws, which was 18 more than the Celtics. LeBron James had 24 himself, and combined with Wade, the duo took 35 free throws, six more than the Celtics.
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix appeared on “The Joe Rose Show” on 560 WQAM in Miami on Thursday morning and ripped the officials for that very reason.
“There should not be that big of a gap in free throw shooting,” Mannix said. “We’re not talking about an exclusively jump shooting team in Boston. They’ve got a guy in [Paul] Pierce that, for years, routinely ranks among the league leaders in free throw attempts.
“There just should simply not be that big of a gulf in free throw attempts, especially when you look at the obvious calls that the officials were missing. When you look at that Dwyane Wade slap across the face of Rondo when it was 105 all, that changed the course of the game. … I just think there has been something wrong with the officiating, at least in this Game 2. I just think the way Boston plays, there should not be that big of a gap in free throw attempts.”