AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
Celtics coach Doc Rivers and his troopers were not pleased with the calls against them.MIAMI -- Let's make one thing clear: The Boston Celtics did not lose Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals because of the officials. That said, the officials certainly didn't make Boston's task any easier, and a hard-to-ignore discrepancy in calls leave the referees in the spotlight after the Celtics absorbed a heartbreaking 115-111 overtime loss at AmericanAirlines Arena.
It was hard for Celtics coach Doc Rivers (or anyone else in green) to look at the box score and not lock in on the disparity in numbers. The Celtics were whistled for 33 personal fouls and the Heat attempted 47 free throws (missing 16 of them to help keep the game close). Miami got whistled for 18 personal fouls and Boston attempted 29 free throws (missing just three).
Rivers was asked after Wednesday's game if he could put the officiating into words, ones that wouldn't get him fined, and he was brutally honest.
"I cannot," said Rivers. "Listen, it is what it is. LeBron James took 24 free throws tonight and our team took 29. Paul Pierce fouled out of a game where he was attacking the basket. It's just tough. But listen, we just got to keep playing. I tell my guys, it doesn't matter, we can't get distracted. We will not get distracted in this series."
After being whistled for five technical fouls in Game 1, the referees were already in the spotlight a bit entering Game 2, particularly with the buzz about how Boston was prepared to play more physical. Rivers lashed out at a technical foul call against him and, while he wasn't fined by the league (not yet at least), it didn't buy his team any goodwill on Wednesday.
"Whatever happened happened," shrugged Rivers. "And we're just going to move on and play the next game."
Celtics captain Paul Pierce, one of three players to foul out for Boston, downplayed the whistles after being informed that Rivers had expressed dissatisfaction in them after Game 2.
"He sees the game. I don't know. He's watching it from the side, I'm in the war," said Pierce. "We don't really realize it, I guess, as much."
Oh, the Celtics couldn't help but ignore the whistles. Particularly the way the final moments played out. At one end, Rajon Rondo -- putting together a 44-point, 10-rebound, 8-assist masterpiece -- didn't get a whistle despite appearing to get hit in the head by Dwyane Wade while driving for a layup attempt in a tied game. A short time later, Wade drove recklessly at the Boston hoop, appeared to extend his leg to keep Kevin Garnett at a distance, and muscled in an and-one layup to seal the Celtics' fate.
Garnett left without talking to reporters. Rondo admitted he thought he got fouled, but wouldn't go much further. Sitting next to Rondo at the podium after the game, Ray Allen offered: "We all thought he got hit. I'll say it."
Rivers vowed his team will improve what it can control and attempt to ignore what it can't.
"Listen, there were plenty of times in this game, in my opinion, for our guys to get distracted," said Rivers. "I thought they pulled themselves out of it very well for most of the game. We just have to play better. We're not going to blame (anyone) -- we have to play better. And we will."