Last night was a prime example of why some people think the NBA is a joke.

When the mild-mannered Mike Gorman, who goes out of his way to try and not criticize the officials, lest he encourage or validate the emotional outbursts of broadcast partner Tommy Heinsohn, is verbally scratching his head in wonderment over just what the referees are calling, you know something is very wrong. At one point Gorman started to say something, and then just said something along of the lines of “I’m not going to even try and guess at what they thought they saw there.”

What has me scratching my head this morning is the fact that this is just not discussed in the newspapers. The topic is hot among fans who watched the game, so you know that it is something that readers want to read about. If someone had this morning chronicled the questionable calls and non-calls from last night, and tried to put them into context and show how they impacted the game, don’t you think that would be a popular column today?

Instead, all that is really mentioned is Doc Rivers’ ejection, and blanket statements that the technical fouls and ejections are not an excuse for the Celtics losing. Which they’re not. But the ejection is just such a tiny sliver of what was happening last night. It was embarrassing for the NBA. The league makes a big stand about players coming off the bench, whether there is an altercation or not. After a big Joe Johnson shot in the fourth, the entire Hawks bench ran out onto the court, to the point that it looked like a timeout had been called. There hadn’t been. The game just went on. Balls that obvious went off the knee of the player out of bounds right in front of an official were called the other way, Rajon Rondo got ridden out of bounds by two Hawks, and he was called for stepping out of bounds. I actually thought Heinsohn kept his composure pretty good on the air.

Lost in all of this is that the Hawks are damn good, Joe Johnson is a silent assassin, and the Celtics just match up terribly with them. I do not want to take away anything from the Hawks, who once again made huge shots down the stretch, especially Johnson. Those were all factors in the Atlanta win as well, but for no one this morning to mention all of the bad calls last night is inexcusable.

Julian Benbow has the Hawks coming alive in the third quarter after Celtics coach Doc Rivers was ejected. Mark Murphy says that despite the competition and emotion that the Hawks bring out in the Celtics, the Celtics still don’t think of them as a rival. Robert Lee has the third quarter technicals turning the tide for the Hawks. Chris Forsberg blames Doc Rivers and the Celtics tempers for the loss. A. Sherrod Blakely says that the Hawks own the Celtics. Bill Doyle says that the Celtics still aren’t afraid of the Hawks. (Maybe they should be.) Jim Fenton has Rivers getting ejected last night after working hard all season to avoid technical fouls. Tony Lee has the Celtics just able to get the job done in the second half.

Gary Washburn looks at a young, confident Hawks team that has beaten the Celtics all three times the teams have played this season. Steve Bulpett says that you can’t blame the technical fouls and Rivers’ ejection for the Celtics loss last night. What about all the rest of the curious calls and non-calls? They sure added up. Rich Levine casually mentions the “Bennett Salvatore Show” last night, and that “most of the talk” will be about that. Well, why not write more about what most people will talk about regarding last night’s game? Lenny Megliola says that the Celtics have been easy prey for the Hawks this season.

Paul Flannery says that Tom Thibodeau won’t want to add this game to his resume – another overlooked factor in the lost. Taking over with seven minutes to go in the third quarter, Thibodeau didn’t substitute once the entire rest of the game. Flannery notes that the four starters minus Scalabrine all logged 40+ minutes on the second game of a back-to-back.

Rich Thompson has Jamal Crawford finishing the game strong and proving to be a great signing for Atlanta. Jessica Camerato has Mike Bibby unfazed by the constant boos he hears in Boston.

Benbow’s notebook has sitting out with a sore foot last night, and injury that may sideline him for a week. Murphy’s notebook has Kevin Garnett set to return in about 10 days after resuming workouts yesterday. Lee’s Celtics Journal has more on KG. Blakely’s Celts notes has more on Doc’s ejection, and Wallace sitting out. Fenton’s notebook and  Doyle’s notebook have more on Garnett’s latest supposed 10-day return. (The Celtics really need to stop making projections as to when KG will be back. It’s tiring. This more of the same from last season. He’ll be back when’s he’s back. Leave it at that.)

Patriots coming in separate post.


8 thoughts on “Celtics Can’t Overcome Hawks, Refs

  1. For some reason, in the legitimate sports media, pointing out how awful the officials are is equivalent to whining.

    The NBA is a step above the WWE in terms of legitimacy. The end. The faster the sports media realizes what the fans of all 30 teams has been observing, the quicker we might actually solve the problem.


  2. Sorry Bruce but officiating in the NBA has been like this for years. Nothing crooked that happens regarding NBA refs surprises me. I’d bet there are a lot more Tim Donaghy’s working in the league. It’s a good sport in spite of those guys and eventually a good commissioner will fix it but not with this current regime.


    1. ..And this is the problem. You’re simply ok with it and resigned to the fact that it won’t change. If people scream loud enough, the problem will get the audience it deserves. If not, people will vote with their wallets after the NBA is crippled by a lock-out next year.


  3. What kills me is that some of the same media people who still talk about the “horrible” Tuck Rule and the call that went along with it don’t even utter a peep about the astonishingly bad, and quite often biased officiating in the NBA (I’m looking at YOU, Bob Ryan, one of the leading anti-Tuck Ruler’s in the Boston media).

    As far as I’m concerned, the Sacramento Kings won the 2002 NBA title, and the Dallas Mavericks won the 2006 title—but the referees simply took those titles away and handed them to the other team(s) (LA and Miami).

    Cry all you want about this or that bad call in the NFL, but rarely are entire games called one way, or in the case of playoff series, entire sets of games called one way. Moreover, in the NBA, foul calls usually lead directly to points since the fouled player often gets awarded free throws, and even the worst free throw shooters make 1 of 2 on most trips to the line. In the NHL or NFL, you still have to capitalize on penalties by earning a goal, touchdown or field goal.

    Throw in the underreported Donaghy scandal, and you’ve really got a joke on your hands.


  4. Full agreeance and concurence with all the previous posts. The officiating in the NBA has been, let’s just say, “inconsistent” for just about forever. The same calls that are routinely made against every rookie or the younger players are NEVER made against established veterans, let alone the superstars. And everyone associated with this league — Stern, management, coaches, players, media, broadcast “partners,” etc. — knows it, shrug their collective shoulders, and accept it as business as usual. In terms of overall credibility, give me Roller Derby, professional wrestling, and your average carnival booth hawker any day over the joke that is the NBA.


  5. This is exactly why I cannot watch an NBA game in its entirety. Its hard to say how much is Donaghy type cheating and how much is just plain incompetence but I have not been able to enjoy a game for years because of the officiating. What kills me is that I have heard from friends that are refs that the calls are now really that hard to make.


  6. Bruce is dead on with his rant about the officiating. I was heated from the moment the ball was tipped off, that’s how bad the officials were. The worst call, by far, was the rebound by Josh Smith, in which he jumped up and down twice, right IN FRONT OF an official, who did not call traveling. If he won’t make that call, then there MUST be a bias or hidden agenda that exists within that official.


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