Let’s be clear up front: The officiating during the NBA finals has not been good. Fans from Boston to Los Angeles have been complaining as games have been called tight and stars have been in foul trouble.
Wednesday it was Doc Rivers turn to flirt with a fine from the league, as reported by ESPN’s Chris Sheridan.
“I think it was a ton of moving screens they got away with,” Rivers said the day after the Celtics’ 91-84 loss to the Lakers in Game 3 put the Celtics behind 2-1 in the best-of-7 series. “As far as off-the-ball action … you are not allowed to hold, you are not allowed to bump, and you are not allowed to impede progress. I read that this morning, and I’m positive of it. So, you know, when that happens it has to be called.”
Let the irony of that paragraph sink in, really savor it. For the past few years there has been no team that has bumped, grabbed and impeded progress like the Celtics. Suddenly it’s a big problem.
“It’s huge,” Rivers said. “We’ve had all three games where one of our quote-unquote Big Three has not been able to play.
“Last night, Paul was never in his rhythm. He couldn’t be. He played for four minutes, he was back on the bench, played for five minutes. I mean, I played Paul at times last night when I should not have had him on the floor with four fouls, but I had no choice. You’ve got to get him on the floor at some point.
“But it clearly — you know, we watched film today, and I showed Paul, it’s funny. I said ‘Paul, that’s a driving lane. You’ve got to get to the basket.’ His response was: ‘I was worried about getting another foul.’ It’s tough to play that way.”
He wasn’t complaining in Game 2 when Kobe Bryant had to play that way.
I don’t blame Rivers for being frustrated. He should be. But so far the Lakers have adjusted better to the officiating than the Celtics, and that’s one of the reasons they lead the series. The Lakers, more a finesse team, my also find it easier to adjust.
That or the inconsistent officiating is so random nobody ever really adjusts.
Today it was Rivers turn to work the officials through the media. At some point in the next few days it will be Phil Jackson’s turn. And so the cycle of life continues.