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NBA fines Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff, acknowledges officiating errors in Cavs-76ers

Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff began his press conference by practically announcing he intended to get fined.

Asked his biggest takeaway from Cleveland’s 112-108 loss to the 76ers on Sunday, Bickerstaff said, “We deserved to win that game. That game was taken from. We deserved to win it.”

Philadelphia shot more free throws than the Cavs, 42-33. 76ers stars Joel Embiid (17-of-20 on free throws) and James Harden (11-of-12 on free throws) particularly made hay from the line.

“We did a great job defensively, making their two best players have a difficult time from the field,” Bickerstaff said. “But one thing you can’t defend is the free throw line. And that’s absurd. That’s absurd. Our guys deserved way better than what they got tonight.

“It was the rhythm of the night. And again, they’re great players, right? And they understand how to play through the rules, right? And they know how to manipulate the rules. So, this is no knock or disrespect on those guys. But the game has to be consistent on both ends of the floor. There’s contact on one end, it’s a foul. It’s got to be contact on the other end, it’s got to be a foul. And tonight, we were searching for that consistency, and I don’t think we ever found it.”

Asked about Cavaliers guard Darius Garland missing a layup down one with 17 seconds left, Bickerstaff answered before the question even finished.

“Darius was fouled,” Bickerstaff said.

“It’s simple. He was fouled. I don’t what else. He did his job and got to his spot, got fouled. No whistle.”

Unsurprisingly, the NBA fined Bickerstaff $15,000 for publicly criticizing the officiating.

But the league also acknowledged in its Last Two Minute Report that Embiid should’ve been called for fouling Garland on that late shot:

While defending his drive to the basket and shot attempt, Embiid (PHI) reaches across Garland (CLE) and makes contact to his left arm.

Harden also got away with an offensive foul on the ensuing inbound, per the two-minute report. That allowed him to clear space, catch the inbound pass, get intentionally fouled then make a couple free throws to help Philadelphia pull away.

However, the two-minute report also included Garland getting away with a defensive three-second violation with 1:07 left. That missed call cost the 76ers a free throw and a chance to take more time off the clock. We don’t know the skew of other missed calls in the first 46 minutes. In addition to their foul-drawing tricks, Embiid and Harden earn plenty of free throws by being difficult to contain without fouling.

But in his most-specific complaint, Bickerstaff had a legitimate gripe – even if it cost him $15,000 to talk about it publicly.