The 10 Worst Blown Calls of the 2012 NBA Playoffs
Conspiracy theorists must have needed a few change of pants after watching the 2012 postseason.
The fact that the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder, arguably the league's two most athletic and entertaining teams, are in the NBA Finals should be enough for those theorists, but it's not even close to the evidence they've piled up over the course of the season.
From the officials handing out technical fouls like candy on Halloween to incredibly inconsistent officiating, this has been a wildly unpredictable postseason. It's not just unpredictable because of the injuries and fatigue that has taken place, but also due to the officiating making rash and inconsistent decisions that throw both team's off.
It's not a conspiracy. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it's not. Miami is the best team in the East and Oklahoma City is the best team in the West.
So what's wrong with the officiating this year? They've been terrible, and that's about it. They're just as fatigued as the players from this ridiculous season and they're making irrational decisions that don't exactly complement the game being played. Also, they're making their presence felt too much.
It feels like we can't go a game without having a group of neanderthals screaming from their mother's basement that the NBA is fixed.
Conspiracy or not, let's take a look at the 10 worst calls in this year's NBA postseason.
10. Mickael Pietrus Flops, Results in Miami Heat Technical
Not only are players flopping for fouls these days, they're also flopping for technical fouls.
In the waning minutes of the fourth quarter of a critical Game 5 that also happened to be ridiculously close, the referees decided to dole out a technical foul to Mario Chalmers, who appeared to push Mickael Pietrus at first glance.
On the replay, Chalmers does no such thing. He sticks his arms out and Pietrus flies back as if there was a sniper in the rafters at the American Airlines Arena.
Somehow, the officials were led to believe that 6'1", 190-pound Chalmers could truly send the 6'6", 215-pound Pietrus into the camermen below the rim.
The one point mattered, as the Heat ended up losing by three.
9. Rajon Rondo Performs Possibly the Worst Flop of All Time
I've seen some bad flops before, but this one might just be one of the worst in recent history.
I don't care how badly everyone is complaining about LeBron James, Tony Parker, Chris Paul or Blake Griffin, Rajon Rondo takes the cake for the worst flop job in the 2012 postseason with this piece of work in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The player setting the screen, Ronny Turiaf, hardly brushes Rondo, yet the Celtics point guard is somehow able to stumble a few feet before crashing to the floor in a heap.
Perhaps this is why Rondo didn't get that call where he was hit in the face. Referee's notice these flops later on and they have no idea when the flopper is actually receiving contact worth falling to the court over.
8. The NBA's Handling of the Suspensions in the Heat vs. Pacers Series
The officials completely botched the handling of the calls in Game 5 of the semifinals between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers.
It starts off with Tyler Hansbrough delivering a haymaker to Dwyane Wade on an attempted drive. While some may call it a play on the ball, I say it looks extremely reminiscent of Hansbrough doing the same exact thing to Derrick Rose a while back. Hansbrough is given a flagrant-1 as a result.
The fact that he clearly rakes Wade across the face doesn't help his case, either.
On the very next play, Udonis Haslem retaliates with a vicious hit to Hansbrough's shoulder and part of his face. It was clearly a retaliation hit and Haslem is originally awarded a flagrant-2, which would result in an automatic ejection, but has it downgraded to a flagrant-1.
Later on, Dexter Pittman ends the game with an incredibly disgusting hit on Lance Stephenson. The hit wasn't random in the slightest, however, as it, too, was a retaliation for Stephenson making a choking gesture in LeBron James' direction following a missed free throw earlier in the series.
A few days later, Hansbrough saw his flagrant-1 upgraded to a flagrant-2, Haslem was suspended for Game 6 and Pittman was suspended for the next three games.
Unbelievable. Despite Hansbrough initiating the retaliation hit from Haslem, it ends up being Udonis who ends up taking the brunt of the league's strict regulations on unnecessary hits. If Haslem is suspended, it should have also resulted in a suspension for the initiator of the physical play.
Pittman's three-game suspension wasn't nearly enough. It was an abysmal act on his part, and he deserved far more than three games.
7. Rajon Rondo Takes a Slap and Gets Nothing out of It
A horrific call that results in a four-point swing, Celtics fans have all the right to be mad after the officials missed an obvious slap by Dwyane Wade upon the head of Rajon Rondo.
However, this could also have a lot to do with Rondo's flopping. As you'll soon see, the Celtics point guard goes down from minimal contact a number of times throughout every game. Perhaps the officials just couldn't differentiate what was a flop and what was an actual deserved call for Rondo.
Still, there's absolutely no excuses. The foul was obvious and it resulted in the Heat getting an easy dunk on the other end due to the fact that the Celtics were playing 4-on-5 on defense with Rondo still down on the other end.
It's alright though, as the officiating became horrible for both sides for the rest of the series.
6. Kawhi Leonard Takes a Blow to the Head, Loses Ball
There were plenty of bad calls in the San Antonio Spurs series against the Oklahoma City Thunder for both sides, but none quite as bad as the hit received by Kawhi Leonard.
In the third quarter of Game 6, going for a rebound, Leonard grabs the loose ball and comes down with it, only to get slapped in the head hard enough to lose the ball. The ball goes out-of-bounds and is given to the Thunder without a call despite the obvious hit by Russell Westbrook, who barely makes an attempt to make a play on the ball.
This is just as bad as the call that went against Rondo when he got hit. It wasn't as bad in the context of things considering the moment the Celtics were in at the time, but this is worse for the simple fact that it was just as obvious.
Joey Crawford must still be mad at Tim Duncan for laughing.
5. Officials Let Game 1 Between Miami and New York Get a Little out of Hand
The Miami Heat ended up winning this game by 33 points over the New York Knicks, yet there are still critics who will say that some bad officiating was the sole reason the Heat ended up winning.
Officials don't play large roles in 33-point victories. If this game ended up being decided by less than five points, then I could see a case for why people should be mad. However, a 33-point game? That's on the team more than anyone else.
Nevertheless, the officiating in the second quarter of Game 1 between these two teams was horrendous. The officials fell for a few of LeBron James' flops and gave a flagrant foul to Tyson Chandler after a hard screen. While it does appear that Chandler leans into James, it should have been called an offensive foul and nothing else.
Once again, it's just the case of the officials making their presence felt too much. This isn't the time for technical and flagrant fouls to be handed out; it's the postseason, tempers will flare and it's not always the best decision to simply start handing out free points.
4. Paul Pierce and LeBron James' Sixth Fouls in Game 4
As the video shows, the officiating against Paul Pierce and LeBron James in Game 4 was horrendous.
It's understood if Pierce fouls out of a game considering that he's defending LeBron James, a player who is much faster, athletic and stronger than he is. However, the fact that his sixth foul came early in a crucial overtime over some contact is ridiculous. There definitely was contact, but it should not have been enough for the officials to kick Pierce out of the game for it.
The foul calls on James? Deplorable. Quite possibly some of the most outrageous calls you'll ever see. The third foul from minimal contact against Mickael Pietrus, the fourth foul occurring on a drive despite Paul Pierce's heel being in the restricted area, the fifth foul coming as a result of an insanely called double foul and the sixth and final foul coming as a result of Pietrus flopping.
Boston would go on to win, mostly due in part to James dealing with foul trouble the entire game and fouling out of a one-point game with less than two minutes remaining.
It's postseason basketball. Is it really that difficult to just, I don't know, let these guys play basketball in what was obviously going to be a physical game?
3. Boston's Game 1 Technicals
I've said before in articles that we can't really judge when officials whistle players for technical fouls since we don't truly know what's happening on the floor to lead up to such a call being made.
However, these three technical fouls called against the Boston Celtics are straight disrespectful not only to the Celtics, but to the game of basketball in general.
Ray Allen does get a little peeved after a foul call, so he might have deserved the first technical for the jumping around he did.
I have no idea what happens on the second technical. Kevin Garnett has been a relentless trash-talker for a decade-and-a-half, so why are they starting to whistle his taunts now?
The third technical? As Doc Rivers said, "C'mon Eddie."
2. Refs Botch Boston vs. Atlanta Game 6
The officiating at the end of this game was so bad that the NBA had to come out and actually admit they made a mistake.
The Boston Celtics are holding a 3-2 series lead against the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs. One more win and they're on to the semifinals to take on the Philadelphia 76ers. However, they must defend the Atlanta Hawks for one more possession since they're nursing an 81-79 lead with three seconds remaining.
With the Hawks inbounding, Celtics guard Marquis Daniels commits the asinine act of fouling Al Horford before the ball is in play. According to the NBA rulebook, when an offensive player is fouled before the inbound, it results in two free throws and possession. Basically, the Celtics are screwed and the Hawks are suddenly the team with the advantage.
Except none of that happened. Daniels fouling Horford before the inbound was simply called a foul and the Hawks were given another chance to inbound.
Al Horford would get fouled with two seconds remaining and would only make one-of-two of his free throws. The Celtics would go to the other end and make two free throws to seal the game.
1. Stephen Jackson Looks at Bench, Gets Technical for It
That's what Stephen Jackson did, and he got a technical foul as a result.
Once again, Jackson's trash-talk is only a result of the talk from the assistant coaches of the Oklahoma City Thunder bench, who are clearly yelling right behind his back while in the middle of shooting a three-pointer.
Yet the Spurs are the one's forced to give up a point during a time where the Thunder were making a comeback in a crucial Game 6.