The Celtics became unglued in the third quarter of their Game 1 matchup against the Miami Heat and a lot of that was the team’s own doing according to head coach Ime Udoka. All season long, Udoka has prided himself on trying to make the Celtics be a team that doesn’t get caught up in battling with the officials. However, as the Celtics watched the Heat erupt for a 39-14 third quarter explosion, Udoka “We all got caught up in officiating a little bit in that quarter when they got physical,” Udoka admitted. “Instead of trying to make the right play, drive and kick, get to the basket, we were looking for fouls, and that led to some of those turnovers.”
“Got out-physicaled, got out-toughed,” Udoka said. “They looked like they came out in the second half and wanted to up their physicality and aggression on both ends, and they did that. I don’t think we obviously responded well on either end of the floor. We had eight of our 16 turnovers in that quarter, played in the crowd on offense, got sped up. And then defensively, offensive rebounds, getting muscled around in the post. Some poor fouls got them to the free throw line. “So, flipped very quickly and just lost our composure. We won three quarters other than that, but obviously that one is going to stand out. We semi-bounced back in the fourth and started to play well again and matched their physicality, but 39-14 on 2-for-15 is tough to overcome.”
Seeing NBA officials go to the replay center at midcourt has become a commonplace yet frustrating aspect of these playoffs, with refs determining if contact is worth a flagrant foul. What’s a flagrant? Is it a Flagrant 2? What happened to the hard playoff foul, to reasonably stop a player from scoring on a touch foul and going for a 3-point play? The interpretations of the rules have changed through the years and with multiple camera angles equipped in every arena, there’s no lack of officiating experts at home or in the stands.
Monty McCutchen was a longtime official and now works in the league office as head of officiating. He spoke to Yahoo Sports recently, addressing concerns that have been on full display over the past few weeks. The data shows the officials are blowing the whistle more but getting more calls right, even though McCutchen admits he understands the frustration with the frequency of reviews. “I do think it’s a fair criticism,” McCutchen said to Yahoo Sports. “I would say then, that we’re sort of betwixt, in between a rock and a hard place there. Based on our desire for the health of our players. It is a difficult spot for our referees to be in. Do I think we’ve gone a couple of times when we didn’t need to? Yes, I do. And we try to train and calibrate that. “And the reason we’re blowing our whistle more is because the play is more and more assertive and more aggressive. And in some cases, even rough.”
It seems obvious when the notion is presented aloud, but it’s not that there’s more rough play — there’s just less congestion for incidental contact. Almost everything has to be done with intention, thus blurring the lines. “It’s hard to get windup and impact when all 10 players are playing in the paint like Charles Barkley did,” McCutchen told Yahoo Sports. “But when you start playing in space, you get a lot more of the [Memphis wing] Dillon Brooks chase down, a lot more of the layup where someone is recovering like [Dallas’] Dorian Finney-Smith.”
Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul registered more fouls than points for the first time in his postseason career in the Suns' 111-101 Game 4 loss to the Mavericks on Sunday, causing the veteran point guard to vow to adjust his play to avoid the officials' whistles moving forward. "It was crazy, man. It was crazy," Paul said after finishing with six fouls and five points in 23 minutes. "I can't put myself in the situations to give [the referees] that ability to do that. I just got to look at myself and figure out how to be better."
“I mean this sincerely: I do respect that, at the end of the day, it is a hard job, right? I couldn’t do their job. You couldn’t do their job,” Bucks general manager Jon Horst said Sunday evening in an exclusive interview with The Athletic. “Officiating is hard, just like playing is hard and coaching is hard, and I think we all have a standard of trying to get better and improve. And at the end of the day, that’s what stood out to me. We have to improve. That wasn’t a quality playoff basketball game, and I think officiating played a role in that.”
Kellan Olson: Devin Booker said he's been in 500 basketball games and he's never seen one quite like today. I asked him if he's ever seen someone get called for a technical foul like that while getting fouled and he said he has not.
Gerald Bourguet: Asked Devin Booker about the technical he got on the play he got fouled. He said the explanation he was given was that he flailed his arm on the follow-through. Has he ever seen a player get a tech on a play they were fouled on? "I have not."
Gerald Bourguet: Chris Paul on the foul trouble: "It was crazy, man. Crazy." Said they have to bounce back in Game 5
Jay King: Though Udoka believes the refs misjudged when they ruled Smart was not shooting the 3, "Overall, it's one play. You have to be better in the third quarter. ... Throughout the game, we could be better. In the third quarter especially with the turnovers and things of that nature."
Jay King: Marcus Smart when asked if he was shooting on that foul: "What did you guys see? ... It's not like he got me when it was down low. I was already in my shooting motion." Said he was shooting regardless of whether the Bucks fouled him.
Eric Nehm: Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer tells reporters that the Bucks were not trying to foul Marcus Smart and said that he thought Smart was trying to do the "Kevin Durant" rip-through move to get 3 free throws. He thought the two free throws were appropriate in that situation.
Kendra Andrews: Draymond Green: “I am never going to change the way I play basketball. It’s gotten me this far. Gotten be three championships, All-Stars, defensive player of the year. I’m not going to change.”
Connor Letourneau: Steve Kerr on Draymond's flagrant 2 not being reduced: "I have no reaction. We are powerless in this stuff. Whatever the league decides, or whatever the referees decide, that's what stands. We have to move onto the next game."
Shams Charania: Warriors star Draymond Green’s Flagrant Foul 2 in Game 1 will not be reduced by the NBA, league spokesperson tells me and @Anthony Slater.
Anthony Slater: That means Draymond Green has two flagrant points. In the playoffs, four flagrant points mean an automatic one-game suspension. Flagrant 1 equals one
Mary B (Draymond Green's mom): I still can’t believe that CALL on @Money23Green ! Trying to do the right thing! If that was blatant his face would have hit the floor! #REFSSUCK
Marc Stein: Draymond Green just ejected from Game 1 in Memphis after what was ruled a Flagrant 2 foul. Wow. More NBA from me: marcstein.substack.com
Ben Golliver: Warriors react to Draymond Green’s ejection from Game 1 vs. Grizzlies for Flagrant Foul 2 pic.twitter.com/9BnbcAMv64
Austin Krell: When asked for comment on Joel Embiid’s being fined for complaining about officiating, Doc Rivers joked: “Joel Embiid got fined? Wow…dammit.” When the fact that Nick Nurse was not fined for his comments was brought up, Rivers declined comment and said, “Does that sound fair?”
JD Shaw: Sixers center Joel Embiid has also been fined $15,000 for public criticism of the officiating, the NBA announced.
The Pelicans shot 42 free throws to the Suns' 15, and it was a 17-2 disparity in the first half. The Suns were called for 12 more fouls in what was a classic physical playoff game. "You can slice it any way you want to," Williams said. "In a playoff game that physical, [the disparity] is amazing. Coaches shouldn't have to come up to the microphone and feel like they're going to get their heads cut off for speaking the truth."
Memphis Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins often has a cool, calm demeanor, but he felt the need to stand up for his players after their 119-118 loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 4 of their NBA playoff series Saturday. "In my opinion, one of the most poorly-officiated games I've ever seen in my NBA career. All five of our starters are borderline fouled out in the first quarter."
Jenkins also pointed out one play where he said officials blew the whistle before contact happened on a Timberwolves player. "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."
Geoff Calkins: Taylor Jenkins: “I’ve never seen a more inconsistent and arrogant officiated game.” Also, “From the get go it was foul foul foul foul. It’s embarrassing.”
Meghan Triplett: “In my opinion one of the most poorly officiated games I've ever seen in my NBA career…” “I've never seen a more inconsistent, arrogant officiated game. So I'll take whatever hits coming my way…” -Taylor Jenkins after the @Memphis Grizzlies game
Meghan Triplett: Dillon Brooks said, “I’ve got his check for him” if Taylor Jenkins gets fined for his remarks on the officiating tonight.
Meghan Triplett: "When I was growing up [and] when I was in the league the first 3 years when I watched playoff basketball, there was barely any calls called. Let the players play and figure it out. I felt like they just wanted to run the show..." -Dillon Brooks on the officiating in Game 4
Damichael Cole: Ja Morant said he’s also willing to take a fine. He wasn’t happy about the officiating, like Taylor Jenkins. “S—-t terrible. I don’t even foul like that.” “I’m right behind coach. I’ll take mine too.”
Drew Hill: There have been 210 fouls called over the four games between the Grizzlies and Timberwolves. That’s 52.5 fouls per game. The league average per game this season was 39.3 fouls per game.
Brad Townsend: As Luka Doncic sat down behind a microphone and waited for question from reporters, his eyes briefly bulged and he said loudly enough for the mic to pick it up: "Forty-two?" Yep, Utah shot 42 free-throws to Dallas' 23.
Tim Bontemps: As he walked off the court, Joel Embiid gave a *very* sarcastic golf clap to all three of the officials, and then turned around and did it twice more as he continued to walk off.
Barry Jackson: Foul calls were pretty even - Hawks 26, Heat 24. But Trae Young just said: "If the refs are gonna let them be that physical and not call fouls, it’s going to be hard" to win.
Derek Bodner: Joel Embiid says he told Nick Nurse "Respectfully, to stop bitching about calls." "I feel like every foul was legit, and should have been more, honestly
Tim Bontemps: Nick Nurse on his late exchange with Joel Embiid: “(Embiid) said, ‘I’m gonna keep making all my free throws if you keep fouling me,’ and I said, ‘Well, you might have to.’”
Kyle Neubeck: Nick Nurse continued his stump speech regarding the officials pregame tonight. Said there were elbows and “an open hand slap” from the Sixers in the first game that went uncalled. “I hope they have enough guts to at least stop the game and look at that stuff tonight”
Rob Schaefer: Billy Donovan on Patrick Williams' foul on Giannis while jockeying for rebound position down stretch: "I thought it was over-the-back (on Giannis), just from my angle." But said Bulls need to do better job moving on to next play
The treatment of Jokic might not have been criminal, but it’s certainly farcical. What does the once and future MVP have to do to earn a more favorable whistle from the refs? “My friend,” Jokic said, “I think I’m going to get fined if I answer.”
Tim MacMahon: Luka Doncic, talking to Mavs PR man @scootertomlin : “I asked him, ‘How is that not a foul? How is that not a foul?’ He T’d me up. That’s unfair. That’s unfair.”
Ky Carlin: Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff has been fined $15,000 for criticizing the officials in last night’s loss to the Sixers. He was upset about Joel Embiid and James Harden getting the amount of free throws they got. #Sixers
The NBA’s Last Two Minute Report, which was released Monday afternoon, showed multiple late-game calls that went against the Cavaliers -- and played a prominent role in the 112-108 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
With 17.4 seconds remaining, All-Star Darius Garland was fouled by Philadelphia center Joel Embiid. According to a review of the play, Embiid reached across Garland and made contact to his left arm -- a play that should’ve resulted in two free throws and could’ve put Cleveland ahead by one. Bickerstaff singled out that egregious missed call in his postgame remarks.
Tim MacMahon: Jason Kidd just got ejected for his first time as the Mavs’ head coach. Tony Brothers tossed him. Not sure Kidd really wants to watch the rest of this dud in Washington anyway.
Jorge Sierra: Kevin Durant complains after the game vs. Milwaukee: "I'm hurting. That's two games in a row where players walked up underneath me when I'm trying to make a basketball play."
Alex Schiffer: Kyrie Irving said he thought the free throw disparity was a major difference in the game. Said the Nets deserve some blame, perhaps the refs do, too. His bigger problem was the Bucks were "reckless at times" with a few of their fouls.
Stefan Bondy: Kyrie Irving on the Bucks: “They were playing pretty physical. I think they were a little reckless at times. Just on a lot of their fouls. Or a few of their fouls. That’s who they are. But I think it was just reckless at times.”
Will Guillory: The NBA's L2M Report determined that there wasn't a foul on Jose Alvarado's final shot in last night's loss to the Spurs. It did come back with 2 incorrect non-calls, though -- one on the Pels, one on the Spurs. pic.twitter.com/WMcMde2uAZ
James Edwards III: Casey on Cade Cunningham's lack of free throws: "He'll earn it. He's getting hit. Maybe he has to get an act. ... I see guys falling like they got hit with a baseball bat."
Mike McGraw: Tristan Thompson was fined $20,000 for directing profane language at a referee at the end of the New Orleans game, the #NBA announced. #Bulls
Reserve big man Tristan Thompson had a meltdown late in the game, but it wasn’t because of the play of his teammates. It was because of the officials. After he picked up two technicals expressing his displeasure with a review, he dropped a series of expletives before being escorted off the court that likely will cost him a fine with the league office. Lost in the bad defeat to a 31-42 Pelicans team was a stellar performance by Zach LaVine, who scored a season-high 39 points on 12-for-23 shooting. And as frustrated as he was with the loss, getting in the face of teammates just isn’t in his personality. “I think everybody is on high alert,’’ LaVine said. “You’re not going to tell somebody to act a different way. I’m not going to try to turn into something I’m not. I think that’s fake. People can see through that. I think everybody knows what’s ahead of us and what we need to do.’’
JD Shaw: Knicks star Julius Randle has been fined $40,000 for directing hostile language toward a game official. Randle is the fifth player to be fined by the NBA today, with the total now at $140,000.
Mark Medina: NBA issued Draymond Green with a $25,000 fine for "directing profane language toward a game official" during his ejection in the Warriors' two-point loss to San Antonio on Sunday.
Jokes aside, he went on to explain in a calm-but-firm rant that he feels defenders are being allowed to get away with excessive contact on plays where he goes to the hoop. “I’m intentionally trying to get to the basket, get to the free-throw line, and I’m airballing layups — that’s not me. And I just felt like, at that point, I just had to sound off because it was just getting ridiculous,” he said. “… I’m not going to make this solely a ‘Donovan being officiated different’ thing, but I do feel there are times when I don’t get to those calls, and I was tired of it. “I am tired of it because I’m working my a-- off to get downhill and try to create [for] our offense,” Don added. “… I’m constantly being hand-checked or stopped with two hands because I’m so strong. That can’t keep continuing to happen. It leads to turnovers, bad shots … it puts everyone in a bad spot.”
Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic has declared he is done ranting at referees and has discovered a trick to help prevent him from venting his frustration when the whistle doesn't go his way. "It's a funny thing -- I just start singing a song in my head," Doncic said after Friday night's 111-101 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, when he had a frustrating performance (17 points, 5-of-20 shooting, six turnovers) but no confrontations with the officials. "One of my favorite songs I pick and just start singing and let [the frustration] pass.
"I think these last couple of games I've been great with officials. If I think I'm fouled, I just go to him and talk to him normal. But that's it. It's got to be this way." Doncic, who added that he decides between a Slovenian and a Serbian song, has been called for an NBA-leading 15 technical fouls this season, one of which was rescinded after review by the league office. That means he is two technical fouls shy of an automatic one-game suspension, which is levied when a player reaches 16 technicals during the regular season and every two technicals thereafter.
Having apparently seen enough of his team retching all over itself, Popovich picked an argument with referee Bennie Adams and got himself mercifully ejected. He left the court with a wink. Unfortunately for Hammon and everyone else on the Spurs’ roster, they had to stick around to watch the rest of the kiester-kicking the Pelicans administered. C.J. McCollum went for 20 points and Naji Marshall added 18 off the bench as New Orleans handed the Spurs their most lopsided defeat of the season.
BasketNews.com: Gregg Popovich gets ejected in the 2nd quarter and winks at his team before exiting the floor 😉😂 🎥 @NBATV
In terms of controlling emotions during games, the Knicks haven’t set the best example. Thibodeau’s complaining to the referees is typically loud and demonstrative. Top executive William Wesley had also been animated during games toward referees, especially on the road, and was spotted last season storming around in a tantrum behind the basket in Barclays Center.
Anthony Chiang: Last 2 Minute report says no-call that led to jump ball late in last night’s Heat-Bucks game was correct ruling. “Antetokounmpo (MIL) and Butler (MIA) arrive at the ball simultaneously during the inbound pass and the body contact that occurs is incidental.”
The Kings were not pleased with the officiating at the end of the game. Jokic nearly fouled out late in the fourth quarter, but officials ignored a questionable screen on Fox and later overturned a call that would have sent Barnes to the free-throw line. “It’s interesting,” Barnes said. “You get fouled on a play, no call. You talk to the refs. They say they missed it and you kind of go from there. It happens once, it’s fine, but when it happens multiple times, you sit at the end of the game and wonder. That’s six to eight to 10 free throws, right? Well, what could have happened?”
June 5, 2023 | 9:05 pm EDT Update
Brandon Ingram and Jaren Jackson Jr. commit to play for Team USA for FIBA 2023 World Cup
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: Two Western Conference All-Star forwards — New Orleans’ Brandon Ingram and Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr., — are committed to play for Team USA’s FIBA World Cup team this summer in the Philippines. USA Basketball plans to finalize a 12-man roster later this month.
Indeed, on the day Dallas acquired Irving, a high-ranking member of the organization told The Dallas Morning News that along with envisioning him as a strong fit alongside Doncic, the Mavericks admired Irving’s proven track record of attracting star teammates, Exhibit A being his wooing of Kevin Durant from Golden State to Brooklyn.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on LeBron James: 'Doesn't have to prove anything'
At the unveiling of a Koreatown mural commissioned by the Lakers, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said LeBron James should be the only one in control of his future after hinting at retirement following the Lakers’ elimination from the playoffs. “At the end of the year, after all that, LeBron and most of the guys looked like they’d been through two seasons, you know? But they still gave it an awesome effort,” Abdul-Jabbar said Monday. “I think it’s up to him. Certainly doesn’t have to prove anything. And it’s just what he wants to do at this point.”
Trayce Jackson-Davis explained his potential role in the NBA. I think, overall, I’ve got to be a basketball player. At the end of the day, whether I play the small-ball five or whether I play the four, (I just want) to guard positions out on the floor and do my job on offense, whatever the coach wants me to do. That is a big thing for me, being a basketball player, and showing my IQ, athletic ability and everything that comes with it.
The Athletic: Jaren Jackson Jr. was asked if he thought Dillon Brooks calling LeBron James “old” backfired in the Grizzlies-Lakers series. “It helped L.A. get around something and get some energy… but he is old. He kicked our ass and he’s old.” 🎥 @PodcastPShow
Clutch Points: “You’re always gonna make mistakes growing up… And [Ja] is the most popular player at this age probably ever… No matter what I stand by my brother.” Jaren Jackson Jr. speaks on the Ja Morant situation 🗣 (via @PodcastPShow) pic.twitter.com/H3WYtDoZ8E
June 5, 2023 | 7:45 pm EDT Update
Cason Wallace no longer included in Hawks pre-draft workout on Tuesday
Lauren L. Williams: The Hawks announced an update to Tuesday’s pre-Draft workout. Cason Wallace will no longer participate. pic.twitter.com/sfM1BGTg8g
Even though Smith’s role in Denver is minimal, he has earned respect in the locker room. Coach Michael Malone said Smith, Green, Jordan and Caldwell-Pope have impacted the team’s culture. When Smith arrived, he immediately wanted to help Nikola Jokic be an even better playmaker. But as he watched Jokic make unreal passes and find teammates on the weak side, he realized there wasn’t much that needed to be said.