- The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors are embroiled in a controversy over officiating in the playoffs.
- On top of reports the Rockets sent to the league complaining about the officiating the Warriors receive, the two sides have also jabbed each other about their complaints.
- Things could get worse in Game 2, as a referee with an ugly history with the Rockets is set to work the game.
- The series is now positioned in a way where both teams will be upset with the officiating, no matter which way it goes.
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The second-round series between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets is only one game in and threatening to get ugly.
The Warriors won Game 1, 104-100, and in somewhat controversial fashion. The Rockets believed that they were fouled several times when Warriors defenders didn’t grant shooters a clean, safe landing space. It’s a rule the NBA put into place, in part, after Kawhi Leonard landed on former Warriors center Zaza Pachulia’s foot in Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals, injuring him for the rest of the series.
With time ticking down in Game 1 and the Rockets trailing by three, James Harden attempted a game-tying, step-back three. He made some contact with Draymond Green, who contested the shot, and believed he was fouled. No foul was called, and the Warriors eventually won the game.
Things have only gotten uglier since that final buzzer sounded. Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni said that the referees told him at halftime that they missed four fouls on three-pointers, which would have given the Rockets 12 more free throws.
Harden, who led the league in free throw attempts, said he wants to be officiated fairly. The Warriors bristled at his comments.
Two reports would later make clear that the officiating is a big deal for the Rockets. The Athletic’s Sam Amick first reported that the Rockets had conducted a study on officiating, then later informed the league that they believed the Warriors received beneficial calls.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Rachel Nichols later reported that the Rockets had studied Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals and concluded that they lost 18.6 points from referees not making the correct foul calls.
The Rockets wrote a memo – which, according to ESPN, was not sent because the Rockets eventually spoke to league officials about it instead – which read: “Referees likely changed the eventual NBA champion. There can be no worse result for the NBA.”
The NBA told the Rockets and ESPN that they disagreed with the Rockets’ methodology.
Further, both sides are dumping fuel on the fire. Warriors coach Steve Kerr entered his media session on Monday and pretended to fall on a reporter, asking who fouled him.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey took a more silent route, later tweeting an article from 2016 about Kerr being fined for criticising the officiating in a Warriors game.
Lest one think this will all blow over in Game 2, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst revealed that a controversial referee would be working Tuesday’s game.
Veteran official Scott Foster has been assigned to Warriors-Rockets tonight.
Chris Paul, James Harden & Rockets have a long-running feud with Foster. He hasn’t worked a Rockets game since February, when Harden was fined for criticizing him after fouling out of a game in LA.
— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) April 30, 2019
The series is now in a place where both teams will be unhappy with whichever direction the officiating takes. If the Rockets continue to not get the calls they believe they deserve, they will only feel hardened in their stance.
If the referees call more fouls on the Warriors, the Warriors will feel it’s the refs and league succumbing to the pressure put on them by the Rockets.
With all of this serving as the backdrop to the series, things figure to get ugly and intense going forward.
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