It's no secret that the 2010 NBA Finals have been dominated by one team. In all three games, they've controlled the pace and style of play. And on the days following the games, they were featured in headlines everywhere. Of course, we're talking about the referees.
- Game 1: 54 total fouls called
- Game 2: 58
- Game 3: 47
We're already averaging 53 fouls in each game, which is well above the average of about 45. And as WEEI's Kirk Minihane points out, it's not even that they're biased -- the refs are simply calling too many fouls.
The problem isn't that the referees are biased toward either the Lakers or Celtics, it's that they have allowed themselves to be THE story of what should be a finals that focuses on the best rivalry in the history of professional sports, starring guys like Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo and Garnett and Allen and Pau Gasol and Pierce and even Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers. Bill Kennedy should not be taking headlines away. William Devane said it better than me, guys. Let Them Play. Enough of 50+ fouls a game. Swallow the whistle. Does Bennett Salvatore think that America is tuning in to see Rondo, Pierce and Kobe on the bench with foul trouble? And how many instant replays do we need to have in the last two minutes of a game to establish a crew is over their heads? To be fair, I don't think a single blown call has determined the outcome of any of the first three games, but don't you get the feeling that is going to happen before this series is done?
Not surprisingly, Celtics coach Doc Rivers has had enough, and let his thoughts known on Wednesday, even going so far as to send a tape to the league office.
"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." [...]
"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.