NBA refs suck

I wasn’t able to watch Oklahoma City’s mess of a performance in Game 2, but by all accounts they had no business being in that game at the end, and Miami again deserves credit for playing well just when everyone is ready to write them off.

That said, the no-calls on the last play were just pathetic. Lebron James definitely fouled Kevin Durant in the act of shooting, and then he also fouled Russell Westbrook going for the rebound.

This is why the NBA really sucks sometimes, and why David Stern should just keep his fat mouth shut when someone brings up the lottery. I don’t think it’s fixed, and I think most people who immediately assume “conspiracy” are usually just stupid or lazy, but there are too many weird things going on in the NBA year after year for Stern to act self-righteous when someone questions the integrity of his league. They can find a way to ruin even a great matchup like this one, which may be the beginning of an epic rivalry between Lebron and Durant.

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NBA News & Rumors: Nets’ SG, Curry, Delonte and more

Courtney Lee and Chris Douglas-Roberts fighting to be Nets’ starting shooting guard. Courtney Lee is a player. He can shoot, score and defend, and he’s still troubled by Orlando’s decision to trade him away. That layup he missed in the Finals was no gimme. By the time he was in position to release the ball, his entire torso was behind the backboard. It’s a shame that’s what people remember of Lee from last season. This battle may go deeper into camp, but Lee has more talent and should be starting for the Nets this season.

Replacement refs aren’t up to snuff. Last night in the Rockets-Celtics game, 75 fouls were called and 102 free throws were shot. This is astounding. NBA refs get a bad rap. Basketball is a tough game to officiate because there is so much contact on any given possession. Refs have quite a bit of leeway, which can lead to inconsistency from game to game and from crew to crew.

HC Don Nelson plans to use Stephen Curry as a starter…at times. He says it’s going to be a matchup thing because Curry is so good. So look for Curry to start when the opponent also has a couple of smallish guards in the starting lineup. But wouldn’t a Monta Ellis/Stephen Curry backcourt create huge matchup problems on the other end of the court? I think most off guards would have a tough time getting back in transition to cover Curry on the wing.

When will the Milwaukee Bucks get a new arena? I grew up outside of Milwaukee and remember when the Bradley Center was state of the art. Needless to say, that was a while ago. The Bucks are in a tough spot because with the recession, they’re going to have a tough time making money this season unless the team is playoff-caliber. Given the environment, neither the city nor the franchise are going to want to pay for an arena, so there’s a real chance that the Bucks’ owner — Senator Herb Kohl — sells the team in the next few years. It would be a shame, because Bucks fans are great when the team is good (or at least mediocre).

Delonte West leaves the team…again. Other than maybe the Lakers, the Cavs are probably the best equipped to handle this kind of drama during training camp. With the whole LeBron/Shaq honeymoon, eyes are elsewhere, but West has the potential to become a distraction as the season wears on. He’s too good to cut loose, but not so good that he deserves special treatment. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Cavs handle West if he continues to miss time.

NBA officials out of control? Not so much.

John Hollinger writes that the uptick in free throws this postseason is nothing new.

This phenomenon has gone on since prehistoric times as clubs enforce the no-layups policy with greater zeal, and garbage-time situations become fewer and farther between. These playoffs’ free-throw rates have increased over the regular-season rates similar to past seasons’ rates, even though high-foul teams are overrepresented this time around.

Denver led the NBA in free-throw attempts per field goal attempt this season by a wide margin.

Orlando averaged .351, good for third in the league, with center Dwight Howard leading the league in free-throw attempts.

Sum it up, and that’s six conference finals games with an above-average number of fouls, but we also have a far greater sampling of 67 games from the first two rounds of the playoffs. And in those two rounds, we had no deviation from the historic trend whatsoever. The only noteworthy development is a phenomenal increase in the frequency of technical fouls, with 1½ being called a game in this postseason, compared to less than one per night just here years ago.

But as far as live-ball action goes, the evidence for the “refs gone wild” theory is skimpy at best. Basically, we’re getting all bent out of shape over a six-game sample when a sample of 10 times as many games shows the opposite conclusion.

The bottom line is that teams and players don’t care if the refs call it close or loose, they just want consistency throughout the game. Officials can’t “let guys play” in the first quarter and then start calling ticky-tack fouls late in the game. The players adjust based on how the game is being called early on, but if that changes throughout the course of the game, all hell breaks loose.

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