Phoenix Suns: NBA Finals Officials Need to Do Better

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Nobody likes the guy who consistently blames “bad calls” or “blind refs” for his team’s losses. It feels like an ancient excuse, and one that often falls on deaf ears for good reason.

But following the last two NBA Finals contests featuring the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks, some voices hailing from out West have roared especially load, complaining about the officials, and quite frankly—with good reason while doing so.

Prior to that though, this series’s biggest outrage regarding its officiating oddly enough worked in Phoenix’s favor. With Devin Booker already carrying five personal fouls and just a few minutes still to play in Game 4 the other night, he collided with Bucks point guard Jrue Holiday, clearly fouling him. Neither referee blowed their whistle, bailing out Booker much to Milwaukee’s displeasure.

It ended up mattering very little, with the Bucks still scoring on the play and only expanding on their lead. However, the no-call still sent those watching the affair into an absolute craze.

But as we all know, games never go decided by just one play, or in this case—just one call or non-call. On the other hand though, repeated poor judgements made by referees can indeed alter a contest. Unfortunately, we saw this occur all too often right before the Booker play, and throughout the game before it as well.

During Game 4, Milwaukee superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo drew questionable calls on too many occasions to count, with most going against Deandre Ayton. This went best exemplified with roughly eight minutes to play in the first half, as Antetokounmpo drove into the paint, and initiated contact with Ayton.

Colliding with Phoenix’s big man while far outside the restricted zone, Antetokounmpo proceeded to bounce off him like a ping-pong ball. Despite his lawful guarding position, game officials tagged Ayton with a foul and rewarded the Greek Freak’s flop with some free throws.

This was only the beginning though. Just a few minutes later, as Antetokounmpo built up some speed, and started running toward the basket, like he so frequently does.

This time he blatantly missed a layup after Ayton went straight up to mount a defense. However, Giannis again drew a late whistle despite minimal contact from Ayton. It left him and his teammates begging for answers, rightfully so after playing sound defense, but once more going penalized.

A similar play occurred early during the game prior as well, where Antetokounmpo ricocheted off a well-set Ayton down low, missing his shot as he flew past the hoop. Yes, you guessed it—Giannis again earned free throws after the play. This not only gifted the Bucks with an improper chance to put up more points, but also helped them pile up personal fouls under Ayton’s name during the contest, which essentially handed Milwaukee the game.

Again, you never want to whine over one or two incorrect calls, but sequences similar to these played out over and over again. Antetokounmpo earned fouls seemingly every time he missed an inside shot during both Games 3 and 4 in Milwaukee, abusing the “superstar treatment” to an extent unseen so far this postseason.

Playing into the fiasco, Jae Crowder and PJ Tucker co-starred in a flopping extravaganza fit for a one-on-one contest at Trae Young’s house. It set this unfortunate, “flop heavy” tone for Game 4, illustrating free throws as the easiest method to score points, rather than the old fashioned way.

The NBA quite frankly struck gold this year from an entertainment standpoint as two teams ascended to the NBA Finals despite having very little recent success. But they might soon spoil it if their referees continue to influence this series with poor officiating. You simply cannot allow issues such as these to persist, and expect to nurture a competitive matchup at the same time.

Next. Phoenix Suns: Three Players To Step Up After Game 4 Loss. dark

Perhaps NBA officials really were pulling for the Bucks over these last two games, not for any biased reasons, but because they need to stretch this series out as long as possible so they can attain additional chances to redeem themselves. Sadly enough, it feels like a theory that certainly makes sense at this point.