Grizzlies’ Jenkins: “I’ve never seen a more inconsistent, arrogantly officiated game”

2022 NBA Playoffs - Memphis Grizzlies v Minnesota Timberwolves
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It’s an NBA tradition going back to Phil Jackson in Chicago to have a playoff coach be willing to take a fine to work the officials between games of a playoff series.

Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins took that to a new level Saturday night after his team lost a close one in Minnesota that evened the series 2-2. Here are his quotes, via Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“In my opinion, one of the most poorly-officiated games I’ve ever seen in my NBA career,” said Jenkins at the Target Center. “All five of our starters are borderline fouled out in the first quarter…

“I’ve never seen a more inconsistent, arrogant officiated game,” Jenkins said. “It’s embarrassing. I’m at a loss for words. I’m not going to go as far as saying that’s the reason we lost, but I’m going to let it be known that’s messed up.”

His Grizzlies’ players had Jenkins back.

It was a tightly called, whistle-happy game where the Timberwolves shot 40 free throws and the Grizzlies 33. Every Grizzlies’ starter had two fouls 30 seconds into the second quarter.

Both teams in this series are aggressive in trying to get to the rim, and both are filled with young players that tend to make mistakes like fouling. However, it wasn’t just this one game; this has been a whistle-happy series.

So much for the officials swallowing their whistles and letting teams play — and it isn’t just the Grizzlies/Timberwolves series. The referees have been injecting themselves into games in every series, and John Hollinger of The Athletic has the data to back it up.

Through 20 playoff games, the league is averaging 24.0 foul calls per 100 possessions and 25.8 free-throw attempts per 100. To put that number in perspective, the foulingest team in the league in the regular season, Detroit, only committed 22.2 fouls per 100 possessions. And the most free-throw happy team, New York, only earned 25.0 free-throw attempts per 100. Basically, every playoff game now feels like a regular-season game from the James Harden-era Rockets.

Free throws traditionally go up a little in the postseason, but this year has seen a much larger spike. For whatever reason, the referees are calling the first round tighter than usual.

Which is great if you like a parade to the free throw line. For those of us who like basketball with a bit of flow to the game, it’s been hard to watch.