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OutletPass
05-22-2003, 11:34 AM
Mavs feel restrained by refs
By Terry Brown
NBA Insider
Thursday, May 22
Updated: May 22
11:11 AM ET


I'm not saying the refereeing is good.


I'm not saying the refereeing is bad.

I'm saying that as the NBA playoffs get closer and closer to the Finals with each passing game becoming more and more important, the refereeing is different than it was during the regular season. And of all the teams left in the postseason, the Dallas Mavericks are suffering the most because of it.

"It was tough to play through it," Maverick guard Nick Van Exel said in the Fort Worth Star Telegram of the officiating after the Spurs defeated them 119-106 Wednesday night. "The only thing players wish is that players are able to decide and dictate the flow of the game. That's all we ask. I let it take me out of my game tonight."

Of course, there are going to be nights when the Mavericks are going to shoot only 16 free throws in a playoff game like they did in the fifth game of their semifinal series with the Sacramento Kings. And there will be nights when their opponents will shoot 48 free throws like the San Antonio Spurs did in the first game of the Western Conference Finals. And there will be nights when their opponents will shoot twice as many free throws as they do like the Portland Blazers did in the second game of that particular first-round series, 18-37.

But when looking at the playoffs as a whole, the Mavericks are shooting 23 free throws per game after shooting 21.8 during the regular season while their opponents are shooting 31.7 free throws per playoff game after shooting 24.7 per regular season game.

Following the math, the Mavs are shooting 1.2 more free throws per playoff game than regular-season game while their opponents are shooting seven more for a difference of -5.8.

This is how the final eight teams stacked up against this formula:

Kings +6.2
Pistons +5.2
Spurs +1.3
Nets +0.9
Lakers -0.2
Sixers -3.4
Mavs -5.8
Celtics -6.7

Of course, the Kings, led by All-NBA power forward Chris Webber, are going to shoot more free throws than the 3-point happy Celtics, but these numbers are based on the Kings shooting 6.8 more free throws during the postseason than the Kings did themselves in the regular season and the Celtic opponents shooting 6.4 more free throws during the postseason than those same Celtic opponents did in the regular season.

Add them together and it's a whopping difference of 12.9 points.

Again, we can't say that the referring is consistently bad or that it is consistently good, only that it is inconsistent.

In the first game of the Western Conference Finals, the Spurs shot 48 free throws. In the second, they shot 45. The difference, though, is that in those same games, the Mavs shot 50 and 22, respectively.

Of course, there are differences in styles and tempo as also seen in the differences in shooting percentages and the number of 3-pointers taken. These are as much or more the responsibility of the players and coaches as any referee.

"We got aggravated way too much and complained way too much at every call," Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki, who had three fouls in the first 431 seconds of Wednesday night's game, told the San Antonio Express News. "We should have fought through that a little better than we did."

The problem, though, is that these are the same players and the same coaches playing the same style with the same tempo that they did during the regular season. And it's getting harder and harder to explain why, in the nine Maverick playoff victories this year, their opponents have shot 31.6 free throws and in their seven playoff losses their opponents have shot 31.8 free throws while they, on the other hand, have shot 25.4 free throws in wins and 20 in losses.

"The officials should not be setting a confrontational tone," TNT analyst and former coach Jeff Van Gundy was quoted in the Dallas Morning News after Maverick coach Don Nelson was ejected for his second technical. "They should be facilitators."

Of course, playing the NBA game of basketball entails dealing with the perceived good call or bad call or no call. But the Mavericks are wondering if a conference finals game between two teams that each won 60 games this season should come down to six technical fouls in the first 14:16 of one game and 170 free throws in two when they can't remember any regular-season games being decided like that.

"If you have to control the game where it doesn't get out of hand with fighting and all that, then so be it," Van Exel said. "But don't just hand it to them. We're here just like they are. It's ridiculous."

LRB
05-22-2003, 03:02 PM
<< I'm not saying the refereeing is good. >>



Well I am saying it was worse than bad. It was horrible. i/expressions/face-icon-small-disgusted.gif