The Golden State Warriors beat the Houston Rockets in Game 1 on Sunday, 104-100. Officiating was one of the main storylines of the series opener, but apparently it’s been on the minds of the Rockets for much longer.
According to a report from the Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Rockets have done some serious data analysis on how Golden State is officiated in big games.
According to Charania, the Houston believes the Warriors benefit an amount that equates to a serious swing in their favor. This has tipped the scales — surprise surprise — to Houston’s disadvantage against the defending champs.
For example, the Rockets did an analysis of all the missed calls in the seven games of the Western Conference Finals in 2018, and came up with some startling allegations.
Via The Athletic:
The Rockets, according to the sources, had a double-digit point deficit in six of the seven games (and a small edge in Game 2). In all, sources say, they were harmed to the tune of 93 points. Game 7 was the worst, the research showed, with the league-issued report indicating they should have had 18 more points. More specifically, two of the 27 consecutive missed 3-pointers that did them in were ruled to have been missed foul calls.
Part of Charania’s story also details how the Rockets believe the stepping-under-a-shooter rule is not being enforced. Specifically, Houston says certain veteran refs are more reticent to call a violation of this rule. Of course, many have been rolling their eyes about that in relation to James Harden‘s final 3-pointer, where the Rockets guard can be seen clearly and unnaturally swinging his legs forward on Draymond Green.
Morey and his staff have always been cutting edge. If he can get the NBA to officiate games more accurately, it can only benefit the teams and the fans. Officials have had a hard go of it during these playoffs, and they have been noticeably poor in several matchups across all series and both conferences.
The game seems to be outpacing the boys in gray a little bit. Players — including guys like Harden — have long benefited from taking advantage of ref’s blind spots. NBA players train in the offseason with officiating crews so they can figure out how best to pull off moves that officials will either see as a foul, or not see at all, from their vantage point. No one is innocent.
And even if all this is true about the Warriors, this is the most incredible case of sour grapes I’ve ever heard of. No judgement, but using quants to point out how many extra points you should have due to missed fouls is, quite literally, next level.
According to Charania, the Rockets have done this analysis based off the 48-minute report the NBA gives to each team. But Houston doesn’t get the one the league gives to Golden State, and that’s part of the problem. Without a comparative analysis from the Warriors, it’s hard to take these numbers seriously since we have nothing to weigh them against. It’s just as feasible the officials — whom everyone is complaining about — missed enough calls against Golden State tantamount in number and effect to those missed for Houston.
If this is an altruistic attempt by the Rockets to get the NBA to improve, more power to them. But if it’s simply to bolster their chances against the best team of a generation, it becomes a murkier question to answer about whether the league and the National Basketball Referees Association will take them at face value.