By all accounts, the start of the Kings/Warriors series has certainly lived up to the hype, and as we've seen over the last 48 hours, it is certainly not without controversy.
Things started with the Kings showing the world why they are a worthy 3 seed. Everything about Game 1 was why this series rules. A crazy pace, great shot making, clutch plays late, it was awesome.
Game 2 had a lot of those same things as well, only this time we got to pair it with the stomp heard 'round the world. From there, Draymond avoided any sort of suspension, then late last night we learned Adam Silver and the NBA were actually tired of his bullshit and now he's missing Game 3.
As a result of all that drama, the Warriors/refs/league have become a hot topic today. Enter JJ Redick
Here's the thing about Redick that I truly appreciate. He's not for the bullshit. He doesn't go on TV and say outrageous shit just to go viral or to push a narrative like some others may do on that very same show. No matter what the topic is, I always respect how JJ Redick simply talks about what is actually happening on the floor. It's refreshing honestly.
Now take the Draymond part out of this rant for second. That's an entirely different topic in my opinion. Based on what JJ is saying, does he have a point?
Honestly? Probably yeah. With this stuff, it usually comes down to who you root for. I'm sure Kings fans could find plenty of examples of shit the Warriors have done in the first two games that haven't been called, or an example of a Warrior baiting an official by flopping etc. But it is also true that Sabonis does push people in the back when going for OREBs. It definitely happened on that Looney play late. If those were actually called, I don't think anyone would be able to argue that they weren't fouls.
The issue here is outside of Warriors fans, nobody wants to hear it. They've gotten away with so much for so many years that nobody feels bad for them. You're telling me they don't get the benefit of the doubt on Draymond/Looney moving screens to help open up the Splash Brothers? Of course they do! It's been happening for their entire run.
It's also true that the Kings do lead the playoff field with 61 FTA. The Warriors are 5th with 45. In terms of total fouls, the Kings are 15th with 48 and the Warriors are 16th with 51. It's not like there's some huge difference there. I can understand maybe being upset at the 29 vs 18 FTA difference in Game 2, but 40 of the Warriors' 82 FGA were 3PA. It's not as if they were living in the paint and were still getting boned in terms of their whistle
So in reality, it's most likely a little bit of both. I'm sure if you went iffy call by iffy call that the Kings have probably benefitted more through 2 games, but guess what? When the series goes to GS's building, I'm guessing they'll benefit. Welcome to the NBA Playoffs.
I think it's safe to say that no matter who you root for, at this time of year all we want as fans is to let the players decide the outcome. The last thing anyone should want to see is the officials becoming the story. The fact that the entire basketball world was talking about CP3 vs Scott Foster last night is a bad thing. It's funny, but it's not something the league should be happy about.
The idea that the NBA has had an officiating problem certainly isn't new, this year is probably the worst we've had in recent years, but I do think we need to be careful here. The whistle the Warriors are getting is not why they are down 0-2 in this series. They are struggling with the pace that the Kings are playing with, the non-Steph minutes have been a complete disaster, and they have 35 turnovers in 2 games, including 20 in Game 2.
That's more why the Warriors find themselves in this hole, not because they didn't call a few Sabonis' pushes in the back. They gave up 126 and 114 points to a team that isn't even shooting well yet.
With so much on the line in Game 3, my guess is any of those iffy plays that weren't called on the Kings in the first two games will definitely be called this time around. And if they are? We'll probably hear from the SAC side about how bullshit it is. That's just how the playoffs work. Everyone is complaining about calls in an effort to get their guys a better whistle, hoping that it impacts the next game.
The real issue might be that a tactic like that actually works, but that's a topic for another day.