After tensions between referees and players led to a huge volume of technical fouls and a record for ejections in the first round of the NBA playoffs, tempers have cooled dramatically on both sides and the league has seen 11 consecutive playoff games without a player technical foul.
There hasn't been a technical called in any of the nine conference finals games and none at all since May 10. In the first round alone, there were 12 ejections and dozens of technical fouls called as officials responded to an uptick in player complaining.
Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks was suspended for entering the officials' dressing room to protest a call. San Antonio Spurs star DeMar DeRozan was fined for throwing a ball at an official. The Houston Rockets leaked an internal memo they had prepared to media outlets, complaining about calls from last season's Western Conference finals, saying the Golden State Warriors got favorable calls.
Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant, meanwhile, were fined a total of $75,000 for criticizing and "[impugning] the integrity of NBA officiating" after an overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves late in the regular season.
The height may have been the uproar when veteran official Scott Foster was assigned to officiate Game 2 of the Rockets-Warriors Western Conference semifinals series. Rockets star James Harden had been fined for calling Foster "rude and arrogant" during the regular season. Harden said Foster had a personal issue with him.
That night, however, Foster and the Rockets kept matters totally professional. The rest of the series was played without officiating incidents and it's started a trend, as both players and referees have appeared to give each other space.
"I think both teams just realized what the hell was going on last two days. ... Everyone was aware of all the talks about officiating, foul calls," Green said after that game. "Come out and play the game. I think both teams did a great job of that. They weren't complaining about many calls, we weren't complaining about many calls. It's kind of embarrassing for the game of basketball, how much it's been talked about, fouls and officiating."
Green's sentiments have seemed to prevail across both conferences and he's led the way. Green leads the NBA with four technical fouls in these playoffs (he had five but one was rescinded) and was on pace to get suspended for a game, which happens on the seventh technical. But Green hasn't been whistled in weeks and the only other player still alive in the postseason with more than one technical foul is teammate Kevin Durant, who has two but has also missed the past five games due to injury.
Who knows how long it will last, but Green is even talking about turning over a new leaf on officiating permanently.
"There were just times where I've looked back at the game and I would see my body language and pouting to a referee...it was disgusting to me," Green said after Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against the Portland Trail Blazers. "It was something that I wanted to be mindful of, and especially coming into these playoffs."