The Internet has been inundated by bitter Celtics fans declaring an NBA conspiracy handed the Finals to the Lakers. One fan wrote that he is not going to ever spend his hard earned money on the NBA again.
I’m going to guess his “hard earned money” isn’t earned by analyzing basketball.
Here is a quick reality check for those who think the officiating was biased in the 2010 NBA Finals.
First, let’s take a look at who these teams are.
(1) The Lakers committed the third fewest fouls in the NBA during the regular season. Defending without fouling is something they’ve worked on and done all year and it’s in their DNA.
(2) All season long the Celtics were among the teams that fouled the most, ranking 22 (of 30 teams) in fewest fouls. If the Celtics’ opponents get the ball inside, whether by passing, by dribble penetration, or by offensive rebounding, by policy the Celtics prevent the “easy basket” with physical play, and often get called for it.
Consequently, the more offensive rebounds a team gets, the more often the Celtics are going to send them to the free throw line.
That’s how the Celtics played ever since assistant coach Tom Thibadeau came to town, and for years it’s been embedded into the Celtic DNA.
Given how these two teams have been trained to compete, the Celtics are obviously going to have substantially more fouls called on them, especially when the Celtics give up a 23-8 advantage on offensive rebounds. If you don’t like this fact, take it up with Doc Rivers and Tom Thibadeau, not David Stern.
Keep in mind the Lakers are the taller team, and arguably more athletic than the aging Celtics. Once the Lakers get the ball inside, which their offensive rebounding advantage allows them to readily do, the Celtics are going to foul them.
It is flat out immature to claim Boston wasn’t given a fair shake by NBA officials, especially without even bothering to look at actual facts that explain it.
The Boston Celtics lead all teams in free throw attempts in the playoffs. In fact, overall they had exactly 40 more free throws than the Lakers.
I repeat: the Celtics were given more free throws in the playoffs by officials than any other team, including the Lakers.
Funny I don’t remember any Celtics fans complaining all playoffs long that their opponents aren’t getting enough free throws.
This partisan vision causes fans to live in a land of make believe, rather than understanding the unpleasant reality.
The “inconvenient truth” is that Celtics coach Doc Rivers actually shoulders much, if not ALL of the blame for the Celtics 4th quarter melt down. After preaching to his team to “trust each other” every time out all playoffs long, Doc Rivers wouldn’t trust his bench in game 7 and overplayed his aging starters.
After adhering to strict limits on minutes all season, Ray Allen (35.2 minutes per game in the regular season), Paul Pierce (34.0 minutes per game) and Rajon Rondo (36.6 minutes per game) were suddenly played about 45 minutes each in game 7 — playing more minutes than Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
Clearly the Celtics did not have the legs for it.
After leading almost the entire game, the Celtics ran out of gas with 6:13 left in the game. Derek Fisher nailed a 3 pointer, tying the score at 64, and sparking a 9-0 run. In the next few minutes the Celtics missed their next 4 shots, and were out rebounded 7 to 1. Were it not for that lapse, the Celtics might have prevailed.
Were it not for that lapse, the Celtics might well have prevailed.
Also, Celtic fatigue was evident in the rebounding disparity, and in their decision making — causing the Celtics to do things like turn the ball over and hack more.
If you rule out bias and conspiracy, your mind will usually let you see the other, more plausable explanations.