Don't blame refs for Celtics' failure vs. Heat - NBC Sports

Don't blame refs for Celtics' failure vs. Heat
Boston's real problem is not getting to free-throw line because it lacks inside presence
Boston's Ray Allen, center, restrains teammate Rajon Rondo as Rondo complains to official Dan Crawford about a call during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
June 1, 2012, 3:06 am

Q. Does Miami have any punch without the assistance of the three blind referees? Seldom have I seen such biased officiating. Mr. Stern should fire those referees or at the very least force them to wear the correct (Heat) uniform next time they hit the floor to officiate another game.
- Mary, Boston

A. Or Boston could have a power rotation (Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass) that shoots nothing but jump shots.

For as much as Bass has done for the Celtics, including his huge outing against the 76ers in the second round, he simply does not provide the foul-creating opportunities that Glen "Big Baby" Davis did.

Yes, the non-call on Dwyane Wade's face-grab on Rajon Rondo in Wednesday's overtime was a brutal omission by the officiating staff. It happens. Celtics coach Doc Rivers knows it.

But don't get caught up in Rivers' rhetoric. He simply was looking to set the table for Game 3.

As for LeBron James' path to the foul line, that's what happens when Garnett is forced to defend the high pick-and-roll and there are no other shot-blockers available for the Celtics.

Can an argument be made that the Celtics might deserve a better whistle? Sure.

But face it, this team has trouble scoring, and teams that have trouble scoring also have trouble getting to the foul line.

Q. What did Tom Benson threaten to do, put out a bounty on David Stern unless the Hornets won the lottery? Unreal.
- Irvin, Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.

A. Fishy? Sure. But too many reputations are on the line, and the lottery process itself makes it impossible to rig the drawing.

This is not a "frozen" Patrick Ewing envelope being drawn out of a hopper. These are Ping-Pong balls and randomly generated combinations being assigned to teams. You can't rig the lottery, not the way it currently is conducted. It would be like trying to rig Powerball.

But you can question a league where teams can tank to improve their lottery options.

What the Hornets, as a good-faith measure, should do is refund all those tickets for games they clearly were not playing to win at the end of the season.

Then again, you can say the lottery system worked, because it didn't reward the Bobcats' lack of shame in aggressively pursuing the league's all-time worst winning percentage.

Q. Vinny Del Negro again? Didn't the Clippers learn enough this season?
- Manny, La Habra, Calif.

A. Apparently not.

With options such as the Van Gundy brothers and Nate McMillan available, it is difficult to argue that there weren't better options than maintaining a questionable status quo.

But these are the Clippers and this is owner Donald T. Sterling, so you had better leave reason at the door.

Del Negro will do fine, as long as you don't mind one-and-done when it comes to the playoffs.

Say what you want about Lakers coach Mike Brown, but the reality is his team continues to have a more reliable presence on their sideline. It's a coaching balance of power that continues to tilt in the Lakers' direction in Los Angeles.

Q. At first I saw that there is no way that the Knicks could lose Jeremy Lin. Now I'm hearing that there is going to be a hearing. Is this David Stern's way of sticking it to James Dolan?
- Jim, Ozone Park, N.Y.

A. Well, if you believe Stern, based on his media session at the NBA Draft lottery, this is a non-issue.

Of course, the union would disagree.

It comes down to this: If an arbitrator allows Lin to maintain his Bird Rights, since he was claimed off waivers by the Knicks and therefore, the union argues, maintains contract tenure, then the Knicks would not be limited to their mid-level exception to re-sign him. Stern insists such a challenge goes against the collective-bargaining agreement.

However, should the Knicks have to work under the "Gilbert Arenas Rule" (don't ask, but, no, it does not involve gun play), then it is possible another team swoops in with a back-loaded contract that could cause too much harm to the Knicks' long-range luxury-tax outlook.

The bottom-line view from here: Lin will be back with the Knicks next season, despite what is expected to be an aggressive bid from the Raptors.

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Q. Considering what Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw are doing for the Spurs, why couldn't the Bobcats get them to do anything for them?
- Joe, Hickory, N.C.

A. Because losing breeds losing and that breeds a losing mentality.

The situation in Charlotte has grown toxic and it's the last place players with any personality question marks should be located.

That doesn't mean that Diaw and Jackson were innocent parties in forcing their departures. It just means that the Spurs' culture is one capable of rehabilitating such images.

How odd is it that a Michael Jordan team would be one that fosters a caustic culture?

No team needs to find the right coach more than the Bobcats. Brian Shaw, with his upbeat personality and Lakers lineage, would be a heck of a place to start.

Q. Last year, I recall you wrote something about how Andre Iguodala wouldn't be back with the Sixers. Do you still think he's gone?
- Ed, Cherry Hill, N.J.

A. Yes. The 76ers need more of a definitive go-to player. By contrast, a team with multiple stars might find Iguodala's complementary skills more to their liking.

Iguodala hinted a year ago, after the 76ers' first-round ouster against the Heat, that he might be ready for a change. Even with Philadelphia's unlikely push to a Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, I'm not sure that has changed.

It comes down to this: He can help another team more than he can help the 76ers, and the 76ers simply can't be spending go-to money on someone who isn't a go-to player.

Q. There's been a lot written in Miami about how the Heat have been winning without Chris Bosh. But who exactly do you think would take him with that contract?
- Michael, Mississauga, Ontario

A. Any team that knows the only way to add an All-Star is through a trade.

Face it, Minnesota, Sacramento and a few other lesser outposts aren't attracting A-list free agents. So if they had the option for such an acquisition locked into a long-term contract, they'd have to consider it.

For the Heat, it is one of their lone remaining options to acquire multiple complementary pieces to fit alongside LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

But it's still early for all of that, with Bosh possibly to get the opportunity to show his worth in the NBA finals.

Plus, he is represented by the same agency as James and Wade, so there also would be plenty of politics at play.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at

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