John Hollinger correctly points out in his column today that the free-throw numbers in Game Three of the ECF are probably more consistent with what we see in the playoffs every year.
I like Hollinger, and I like stats because there are some interesting and important stats, but the thing about stats is that once you figure them out, you have to take that next step and apply them.
Hollinger forgot to do that.
To break it down, Hollinger wrote that Games One and Two featured particularly low foul and free-throw counts.
Now, the refs may have swallowed their whistles here and there and missed a few calls, but who says that's a bad thing?
What do we remember from Game One?
I remember Varejao's mental collapse on defense and Rashard's cold-blooded three-pointer down by two to take the lead with 15 seconds left.
I remember the Magic defending LeBron perfectly, LeBron passing out to Mo, and Mo swinging it to Delonte for an open three.
I remember Mo almost winning the game on a shot that was virtually an 18-foot tip.
What do we remember from Game Two?
There may be some homers out there who remember the refs missed Mo throwing the ball at Howard or the refs calling a touch foul on Pavlovic with 13 seconds left.
But the real fans remember guys doing everything they could to win the game:
Hedo making a tough pull up with one second left.
LeBron making the shot of a lifetime to resuscitate the Cavs' playoffs hopes.
What do we remember from Game Three, again?
Even though it came down to the closing seconds and some big plays down the stretch, nobody remembers any of that. They remember the game-long parade to the free-throw line, the constant interruptions in action, and some dubious calls down the stretch and throughout the game.
I only remember the officiating.
I don't remember one play where guys were out there making the kinds of plays that win games.
I remember whistles and whines.
Applying the logic
Refs, do us a favor and look the other way, swallow your whistles, check out some Orlando broads in the stands, or whatever you usually do when you're not making spectacles of yourselves.
I'll take that over a game where the stars are the guys making the calls down the stretch instead of the guys making the plays, and the guys who are supposed to be making plays are too busy either being shown the bench or whining.