Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
I have had a few observers, Bulls fans if you will, talk to me about the lack of favorable calls the Bulls are getting from the NBA referees. After watching several games I have concluded that their assessments are partially correct.
The Bulls, just like any other NBA team, gets their share of calls. If you look beyond the numbers, the calls they receive are misleading.
How about this for an interesting statistic; the Bulls average 22.3 free throw attempts a game, good for 14th in the NBA.
Here is another surprising statistic; the Bulls are ninth in free throw shooting differential. They take 1.2 more shots from the charity stripe than their opponents. Those numbers would suggest that the Bulls get their fair share of calls. What the numbers do not suggest is the timing of the calls.
How times do you find yourself watching the Bulls game, they are in the midst of making a run that will tie up the game. On the next Bulls possession, Luol Deng aggressively attacks the basket, but instead of getting a blocking foul called in his favor, the referee calls a charge.
In another scenario, the Bulls are staging a comeback. Their defense is smothering the opponents, but the star player on the opposing team is looking to shoot. If his shot falls short, the referees look past the fact that the Bulls have played strong defense, a foul is called against the Bulls’ defender.
Both of these situations happen during the third and fourth quarters of the game.
This has a clear effect on the game’s momentum. The Bulls will get a lion’s share of the calls in the opening quarters of the game. The Bulls’ opponents get their calls later. After the statistics are tallied, the referees have called the game evenly. The Bulls not getting the benefit of the calls later in the game is disappointing.
Did you know that despite their free throw shooting, the Bulls average 19.3 fouls per game, versus the 20.1 of the teams they have played?
The differential is 21st in the NBA, which is a clear indication that the Bulls do not get the benefit of the calls.