2012 NBA Playoffs

Heat vs. Celtics: Are NBA Refs Hijacking Another NBA Playoff Series?

Peter EmerickSenior Writer IIMay 29, 2012

The Miami Heat dominated the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals to the tune of 14 points.

While the Heat could give the game ball to LeBron James, who accounted for 32 points on 59.1 percent shooting, or Shane Battier, who grabbed a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds, the game ball needs to go to the referees.

The referees did a great job of hiding the fact that they were wearing Heat jerseys Monday night, as each of the four technical fouls they gave went the Boston Celtics' way.

Of all the technical fouls, the only one that was warranted was when Rajon Rondo shoved Shane Battier under the basket instead of just turning around and running back down the court.

Even that technical foul was a little tacky, though. I mean, it's the Eastern Conference finals, isn't it?

Technically, from the regular-season opener to the final game of the NBA Finals, every game should be refereed exactly the same. But we all know that's not the case.

While there certainly is disparity between the way referees approach regular-season games and playoff games, the reality of the situation is that now is not the time for referees to be asserting their authority.

Ed Malloy and company didn't necessarily cost the Celtics the game—their 39.5 percent shooting from the field did—but that doesn't change the fact that the referees had a larger impact on this Game 1 matchup than they should have.

MIAMI, FL - MAY 28:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat smiles as he holds out the ball in the second half against Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 28, 2012 at American Airl
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Let's break down each of the Celtics' technical fouls and their subsequent impact on the game for the Celtics.

First off, we had Ray Allen getting hit with a "T" for arguing with a foul called in which it appeared he was the one with the position. The impact of that technical foul was that it took Allen out of his groove early on, resulting in shooting 14.2 percent from the field and 42.8 from the line for the game.

Next, we had Kevin Garnett getting hit with a "delay of game" technical foul. This tech was such a ridiculous call that hopefully in the offseason they will amend the NBA rulebook to say, "no delay of game call will ever be called in the playoffs, ever." The impact of that foul was increased frustration against the refs from the entire Celtics team.

The final technical foul of the second quarter was called against Doc Rivers for arguing a call with Ed Malloy. That call was questionable at best, especially since we're talking about Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. The third "T" called against the Celtics appeared to take the fight out of them, as they were afraid that physical play would result in more technicals called against them.

The fourth and final technical foul against the Celtics came on a call against Rondo after he gave Shane Battier a little shove on the baseline. Again, this technical was the only one that was quasi-warranted. Even still, it was questionable, considering that a warning or a personal foul would've sufficed for the point guard.

After Boston received its fourth technical foul of the night, it stopped playing like the Celtics.

They stopped playing physical on the defensive side of the ball, and they started to play to the refs instead of taking the game to the Heat.

That, my friends, is where the problem lies within the way the referees took over Game 1. The real impact of all the foul calls weren't the points off the subsequent free throws or the impact they had on the pacing of the game.

When four techs are called against one team in a single game, that team starts to feel singled out, and that's undoubtedly how the Celtics felt. It seemed like the Celtics were playing more than the Heat Monday night. They were also taking on the guys in the black and white.

The Eastern Conference finals need to be decided by the players on the court, not by the guys in the zebra suits. Unfortunately, Game 1 wasn't decided by the players—it was hijacked by the refs.

We can only hope that the refs will realize what they did to the Celtics in Game 1 and try to be more rational and effective with their calls as the series moves on.

The last thing basketball fans need is another playoff series that is tainted by bad calls and poor officiating.

I'd rather watch the Celtics play the Heat without refs—relying on the players to call their own fouls—than watch what took place in Game 1. Wouldn't you?

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