Foster, a 25-year NBA veteran, has not worked a Rockets game since James Harden publicly criticized him after the superstar fouled out of Houston's Feb. 21 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Harden, who was fined $25,000 by the NBA the next day, declared then that Foster should not be assigned to any more Rockets games because of his personal issues with the team.
"It's lingering, and it's something that has to be looked at for sure," said Harden, who described Foster as "just rude and arrogant" when interacting with players. "For sure, it's personal. For sure. I don't think he should be able to even officiate our games anymore, honestly."
The NBA assigns officials for the first four games of a series before the series begins, but does not announce which officials are working until the morning of each game.
Caesars has opened a total fouls prop bet for Game 2, setting the total at 44.5.
DraftKings has a prop for individual team fouls with Rockets at over/under 20.5 and Warriors at 21.5.
There already was an intense focus on officiating in the Rockets-Warriors series, due primarily to Houston's complaints about missed foul calls on several Harden 3-point attempts during Golden State's 104-100 win in Game 1.
As Harden mentioned in February, Foster officiated two of the Rockets' losses to the Warriors in last season's West finals. That includes a 101-92 loss in Game 7, the subject of a report by the Rockets sent to the league office and obtained by ESPN that argues that incorrect calls and no-calls cost the Rockets an estimated 18.6 points.
Foster also officiated the Rockets' lone loss to the Utah Jazz in last season's West semifinals.
Harden isn't the only Rockets star who has gone public regarding his problems with Foster. Chris Paul mockingly referred to Foster as "the man" and "who they pay to see" after Foster called Paul for a technical foul in a January 2018 Houston win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Paul also complained then about Foster's unwillingness to communicate with players. The league office did not announce a fine for those comments.
Paul, who also fouled out of the Feb. 21 loss to the Lakers and was assessed a technical foul by Foster for arguing a call with 33 seconds remaining in the game, said then that he had met with the league regarding his issues with the referee.
"I don't know what else to do," Paul said.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Foster issued 18 fouls (personal or technical) in the Feb. 21 game -- 12 against the Rockets and six against the Lakers. Seven of the fouls against the Rockets, who blew a 19-point lead in the second half, occurred in the fourth quarter. Houston did not attempt a free throw in the final 20 minutes of the game, compared to 17 free throws for the Lakers during that span.