Something rather curious happened in the two days leading to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Silence. No NBA announcement of a fine for Doc Rivers. No statement from Stu Jackson, the league’s vice president of discipline.
Not even after the Celtics coach called his Game 1 technical foul from referee Ed Malloy the worst technical he ever had called on him in his career.
So it was curious how Rivers tried to dance around the issue of the inequity of foul calls in Game 2 of the series, basically trying to put words into a reporter’s mouth so he didn’t have to reach into his wallet, something he curiously didn’t have to do in the 48 hours leading to Game 2.
Even after Pacers coach Frank Vogel was fined $15,000 at the start of the previous round for questioning the league’s reluctance to acknowledge flopping by the Heat.
Even after Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was fined $25,000 at the end of that series against Indiana for questioning hard blows from the Pacers against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade that had gone uncalled.
So why the NBA silence with Rivers’ pointed comments about Malloy’s quick whistle?
The only logical answer is the league recognized Rivers was correct, that “Come on,” no matter the punctuation afterward, should not result in a point for the other team, particularly when the only damage created was to a referee’s ears.
Then came Wednesday night and Wade’s rake across the face of Rajon Rondo that went uncalled at the most critical juncture of overtime. This time no whistle. This time Ray Allen speaking up for Rondo when an exhausted, physically and emotionally, Rondo attempted to duck the issue in his postgame presser.
By and large, Wednesday’s crew got it right, be it going to replay to double-check clear-path fouls or correctly reducing a late Rondo 3-pointer to two points with his foot on the line.
They got all the correctable calls correct.
But that doesn’t make Rondo’s face feel any better.
Or get the Celtics level in this series, with the Heat now up 2-0 heading into Friday’s Game 3.
So expect for silence this time, as well, regarding Rivers’ non-comment comments on the inequity of Wednesday’s whistle and regarding Allen’s podium defense of the call that Rondo rightly deserved when Wade’s fingers met Rondo’s face.
For all the statements issued by the NBA and Jackson, sometimes silence makes the greatest statement.