The league’s Last Two Minute Report on Game 1 between the Hawks and Bucks found just two missed calls by referees: Both Giannis Antetokounmpo free throws with 3.5 seconds left in the game exceeded the 10 seconds allowed a shooter by the rules.
Atlanta’s management joins a growing club — with founding members in Brooklyn and Miami — frustrated at the league and its officials not cracking down on Antetokounmpo and his extended routine at the line. Fans in Brooklyn took to chanting out the seconds once Antetokounmpo got the ball at the line (those fans counted a little fast, but the point was made). And that clock on Antetokounmpo’s free throws doesn’t start until he gets the ball in his hands, it does not include the 10 seconds (give or take) he refuses to take the ball and goes through the first part of his routine.
The Hawks are frustrated after watching Antetokounmpo shoot 6-of-8 at the line in Game 1, reports Sam Amick at The Athletic.
Because sources say the Atlanta Hawks are not happy that the league is continuing to look the other way on the matter in the Eastern Conference finals. In the Hawks’ Game 1 116-113 win over the Bucks on Wednesday, Antetokounmpo — by the Hawks’ internal count — ranged between 11.5 seconds and 13.3 seconds on his eight attempts but wasn’t whistled once.
The big questions become: Will the Scott Foster-led referee crew for Game 2 Friday night crackdown on Antetokounmpo and enforce the 10-second rule? Or will the league continue to have inconsistent enforcement of the rule (Antetokounmpo has been called twice for a time violation this postseason, once in each series)? What about the rest of the series? If the officials do call Antetokounmpo for a violation, will he change his free throw routine?
The fact Antetokounmpo’s free throw routine and timing showed up in the Last Two Minutes Report suggests the referees will be watching for it Friday night. What happens beyond that is anyone’s guess.
The NBA — and particularly its playoffs — are an entertainment product designed to draw a large audience. Even with the crowd counting down, long free throw sequences are not entertaining, and the league has data showing fans tune out where there are too many free throws.
A debate about the free throw routine is not where the league wants fans to focus during the playoffs.