One hundred and thirty four.
That is how many free throws we’ve gotten to witness through the first two games of the NBA finals. That is 67 free throws a game. The league average was about 48 a game during the regular season.
That is a 71 percent increase in foul calls for the NBA finals.
I’m not jumping on the conspiracy theory bandwagon here — the referees have been whistle happy and inconsistent with calls, but they have been equal opportunity bad. Ray Allen got to sit in Game 1, Kobe was in trouble and tentative late in Game 2 because of fouls. Big Baby had had clean blocks called fouls, Lamar Odom apparently gets a call for just stepping on to the court. There have been bad calls, but they have gone both ways.
And the team that has adjusted better to the calls have won both games.
But there just needs to be less of them.
I’m not asking for a return to the 1990s. For any reason. Nobody wants to watch that again. Not even Jeff Van Gundy and he coached one of those teams. We don’t like the whistle being blown every trip down the court.
The tight whistles are hampering the aggressiveness of the teams. They are keeping the best players on the bench for too long. They are taking any flow out of the games. While Game 2 was exciting, neither game has been aesthetically pleasing (outside of Ray Allen’s pure jumper).
It’s the finals — let the big boys play a little. If Andrew Bynum and Kendrick Perkins want to bang on the block, let them. If the Lakers get a little physical with Ray Allen as he comes off screens, so be it. If Kobe has to fight through some contact to get through a double team, that’s the way it should be. There can be a little bumping, some pushing, a little physicality.
I get not wanting the game to get out of control, but so far it has been the referees that have been the ones out of control. In trying to exert their control.
It’s the finals — let them play a little. It’s what we all want to see.