Hoo boy. There’s long been rumors of refs/league fixing games and this is pretty damning. Rockets leaked this last night. Basically says that they went back through full game reports provided by the league and determined that they lost 93 points in the 7 game series last season (13+ points per game). Game 7, which ended in a single digit loss, was determined to be an 18 point deficit due to ref calls.
In yesterday’s game, the refs calling the game approached D’Antoni and Harden and apologized for missing 4 calls on Golden State close-outs on Harden during three point attempts in the 1st half. The Rockets lost 12 free throws due to those non-calls in a 4 point loss.
Hard to win when the refs are basically spotting Golden State 13 points a game. I hope that more reports like this are provided by all teams in the NBA to provide more transparency.
No, this was about the NBA’s most analytically minded organization deciding long ago that all the data in this heavy-hitter matchup proves their point: The Warriors, as they see it, are getting the kind of officiating edge that simply must be stopped. And Game 1 – which was refereed by Zarba, Josh Tiven and Courtney Kirkland – confirmed their fears that this playoff battle with the Warriors might be just as painful as the last when it comes to the officiating.
By the Rockets’ internal count from their video crew, there were eight attempted 3-pointers that should have been fouls in Game 1 – good for 24 free throw attempts that would’ve certainly decided the game. There was insult added to injury on that front as well, with D’Antoni and Harden both saying officials told them at halftime they had missed foul calls on four Rockets 3-point attempts.
But make no mistake, this is much bigger than one game.
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, the Rockets have been making a data-driven case with the NBA for quite some time that these Super Team Warriors are getting a major officiating advantage in these heavy-hitter matchups. And of all the specific examples that have been discussed with league officials, none has left them more suspect of the system than the 2018 Western Conference Finals. This series opener, more than anything, was salt being poured directly into that Rockets wound.
When that series ended nearly a year ago, the Rockets’ research had just begun. They secured the play-by-play officiating reports from each game from the NBA – a service that is afforded to individual teams (teams aren’t given reports for other teams, which makes it hard to compare). These reports document the league’s verdict on correct calls and missed calls in the same way as the Last Two Minute reports that are shared publicly, with the obvious difference being that it accounts for all 48 minutes of action.
And after the Rockets went through every line, tallying all the missed calls for each team and adding up the potential points that were lost along the way, it wasn’t pretty: The Rockets, according to the sources, had a double-digit point deficit in six of the seven games (and a small edge in Game 2). In all, sources say, they were harmed to the tune of 93 points. Game 7 was the worst, the research showed, with the league-issued report indicating they should have had 18 more points. More specifically, two of the 27 consecutive missed 3-pointers that did them in were ruled to have been missed foul calls.
The point totals were deduced by the Rockets after their own research based on data by given the league.
What’s more, the same “landing space” play that had the Rockets furious after Game 1 was a major point of frustration during that series – especially after their Game 7 loss, and with D’Antoni as upset as anyone over the matter. As detailed in this “NBA Video Rulebook” breakdown, defenders are required to allow shooters to “safely return to the floor.”
The vertical jump shots are the easiest to officiate, but the rule also applies to plays in which the shooter’s momentum carries him to a spot that’s different from where the jump originated. The historical backdrop of this debate wasn’t lost on Rockets officials, either: In September 2017, the NBA instituted a rule that allowed officials to call a flagrant or technical if the defender “recklessly positioned his foot in an unnatural way” under the shooter; the rule was inspired by then-Golden State center Zaza Pachulia’s placement of his foot under Kawhi Leonard during the 2017 Western Conference Finals, when the then-San Antonio star had his season ended by that ankle injury.
“Call the game how it’s supposed to be called and that’s it,” Harden said. “And I’ll live with the results. … We all know what happened a few years back with Kawhi. That can change the entire series. Just call the game the way it’s supposed to be called and we’ll live with the results. It’s plain and simple.”
To that end, the Rockets also believe another one of their allegations was confirmed yet again in Game 1: The notion that the league’s more experienced officials are far less willing to call this play in accordance with the rules, as compared to younger officials. Sources say the Rockets raised this research-inspired complaint with the NBA months ago, and it didn’t help matters in their eyes that this game fell right in line with that theory (Zarba is in his 16th season, Tiven is in his ninth, and Kirkland is in his 19th).