Miami Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade weren’t the only ones with quick trigger fingers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Monday.
Game officials, Dan Crawford, Ed Malloy and Jason Phillips, were operating on a hair trigger, firing off five technical fouls – all on the Boston Celtics - including a questionable “T” on Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, who shouted “C’mon Eddie” after Malloy failed to call a foul on Rajon Rondo’s layup in the second quarter.
"I know mine wasn't (a technical). I can tell you that much,” Rivers said following the 93-79 loss as 8-point underdogs. “I don't know how long I've been in the league, but that has to rank as the worst I've ever had. I would have loved to have earned it."
The rapid-fire technical fouls dished out by the officiating crew garnered a lot of animosity, most notably trending on Twitter and getting called out by ESPN talking head Steven A Smith, who pointed the finger at Crawford for a technical on Ray Allen’s reaction to a whistle.
However, the overall foul count was close (Miami 21, Boston 19) and those questionable techs did little to impact the final score, unless you count the possible psychological toll they took on the Celtics. Boston went ice cold offensively in the second half, getting outscored 47-33, and was a dismal 11 for 21 from the foul line.
Until Monday’s series-opening win, the Heat had dropped three of four meetings with Boston this season, going 0-4 ATS in those contests. The officiating for those outings was dead even, with a total of 77 fouls called on each sides. There were two technical fouls in those four contests, one to Rondo and one to Wade. The home/away split in terms of fouls was 72-82 in those games.
Malloy is one of the top home ATS refs in the NBA, with host teams posting a 35-24-1 record against the spread when Malloy is prowling the sidelines. Home teams are 30-30-2 ATS with Crawford blowing the whistle, and Phillips ranks as one of the best road-team refs, with the home side going just 26-31-1 ATS.
Phillips is the best under ref in the NBA, with contests going 17-41 over/under when he’s officiating. Crawford also leans toward the under at 27-35 over/under while Malloy boasts a 31-28 over/under mark when making the calls.
Miami opened as a 7.5-point home favorite for Game 2 Wednesday, when a new officiating crew will roll into South Beach to call the game. You can find the referees here once announced.
Check out Covers full referee rankings for an inside edge into handicapping the NBA Playoffs.