The Heat just completed a 15-point comeback—the largest playoff comeback in their 24-year history—on the wings of LeBron James' continued dominance, Dwyane Wade's fantastic second half, some clutch shooting from role players and a little help from the officials.
Naturally, however, the officiating will take the limelight once again, just one game after a trio of dubious-to-ridiculous technical fouls were handed out to Boston players in what turned out to be a rout.
Rajon Rondo was fouled on his drive to the basket when the game was tied at 105 in overtime of Game 2. Wade raked him in the face while going for a block, and the officials missed it.
Or swallowed their whistles, depending on how you look at it.
Boston fans have a right to cry foul, but should this story become the narrative of this series?
Forget the ridiculous conspiracy theories for a second—do you really believe the NBA would want a sweep over a seven-game series in the conference finals? It seems obvious to me that a Heat loss would have added much more intrigue to this playoff series than the victory will.
Of course, formerly-NBA-owned New Orleans' lottery victory on the same night throws some jet fuel on the conspiracy fire, but that is a discussion for another article.
Indeed, Miami got some favorable calls in the first two games—the first outcome of which was not affected by the officials—but is this anything you have not seen before?
Unless you are new to watching professional basketball, this is nothing novel. The home team seems to get friendly officiating most of the time, particularly in the playoffs.
Is it right? No. Does it make the NBA seem less legitimate than other professional sports? Yes. The point is that spotty officiating is the nature of the NBA beast.
Tim Donaghy—former referee convicted for trying to control point spreads to help his betting bottom line—recently fanned the flames under NBA officials by saying they were told how to officiate Game 1 by cracking down and doling out those technical fouls.
While that might seem believable to you, remember the source and take a big grain of salt.
There is no real way to know if Donaghy's statements are true or not, but I will offer up this piece of advice from the perspective of someone who has gotten much too angry at NBA officials in the past: accept reality.
Home teams, more often than not, are going to get the benefit of the doubt. If your team is on the road—just like my Heat will be in Boston—expect them to get hosed on some calls. Expect it to affect the outcome from time to time as well.
It may not be right, and it may be easy for someone like me to say after my team's victory, but it is advice that has saved me from unnecessary anger in the past.
Embrace reality and live with it.
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