NBA Playoffs: Is Nate McMillan Justified in Criticizing Refs in Game 1 Loss?
Nate McMillan was not happy with the officiating toward the end of his Portland Trail Blazers' Game 1 loss against the Dallas Mavericks to begin the 2011 NBA Playoffs.
Then again, when is the losing coach or team ever happy with the referees?
Dallas won the game 89-81, but Portland was leading 72-66 near the end of the third quarter.
But in the fourth quarter, The Mavericks attempted 19 free throws, while the Trail Blazers attempted just two.
Generally speaking, that will result in a victory for the team who got off 19 attempts in one quarter, much as it did Saturday night.
Art Garcia of CBS Sports reported that McMillan certainly had an issue with how the game was called won the stretch.
"The free throws," McMillan lamented, "I just don't get that."
Perhaps equally as surprising as the calls was the fact that it was Jason Kidd who led the Mavs on offense, connecting on six three point attempts on his way to a season high 24 points.
Still, McMillan could handle that, but he could not handle the free throw and foul disparity in the fourth and final quarter.
Garcia sounds at least slightly empathetic.
"Then the whistles starting coming," said Garcia. "And coming. And coming. During a 14-6 stretch that gave Dallas an 82-78 lead, nine points came at the line. Nowitzki took 13 foul shots in the game. They all came in the fourth. He made every one. (Portland had 13 free throws the entire night.)"
Garcia reported that LaMarcus Aldridge definitely sided with his coach.
"They marched to the free-throw line, got easy baskets with the clock stopped, giving them momentum and the game shifted in their favor," Aldridge said.
"They didn't turn up any aggressiveness," he said. "They just got there. They played the same way the whole game."
Portland is going to have to get over this game if they expect to move on to compete in Game 2. If they continue to lament on the officiating, they will lose focus on what they have to do to beat the Mavericks.
After all, they are competing against Dallas, and not the referees, right?
I understand that they have absolutely every right to be displeased with how things went down in Game 1, but if they do not play better and show the ability to close out games in the fourth quarter, the results may look similar in the end of Game 2 on Tuesday night.
At least the net result could be similar.
And while it is not always easy to put something like that behind you so quickly, the Trail Blazers will have to do exactly that. And right now, McMillan is the biggest offender.
"It's hard for our guys to know how to play out there when it's called a little different -- 19 to 2 in the fourth quarter," he said. "And I felt like we were attacking, and guys really didn't know how to play with the fouls that were being called. A lot of touch fouls."
They will have to learn by tomorrow night.
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