Boy did I not miss NBA referees during the corona stoppage. Here are videos of two plays that resulted in the Milwaukee Bucks pulling away, and see how the refs helped their cause.
The first video shows what was ruled a blocking foul by Marcus Smart. He clearly sets his feet outside the restricted area, which means it should be a charge against Giannis Antetokounmpo. This also would have caused Giannis to foul out, as he would have had 6 fouls after this. Yet the refs rule against Smart and somehow call this a blocking foul, which results in an and one situation for Giannis, which puts Milwaukee up by three. In an alternate universe where the refs aren’t biased towards star players, the end result is a tie game and Giannis having six fouls and being out.
The reason Giannis staying in is such a big issue is because the play after, he’s directly involved in another three points. Giannis is able to catch Jaylen Brown in a screen just enough, and gives Khris Middleton the space he needs to cleanly get a three point shot off, which he hits. It’s a great read by Middleton, as he quickly recognized Smart would try to pop off the screen, and Brown would try to roll under onto Giannis, but before that happens Giannis splits the two of them and gives Middleton enough room to hit the shot. Had Giannis fouled out on the previous possession, there’s a good chance this wouldn’t have happened. And then of course Giannis would convert an and one shot after Brown converted one of his own, just adding salt in the wounds.
This here shows the main issue with the NBA, which is its treatment of stars. Had the right call been made, a fair argument can be brought up that the result is different. Giannis directly contributed to the Bucks next 9 points right after he should have fouled out of the game. The NBA has a lot going right for it, but this has always been the one area that has irritated me to no end.
Aside from bogus officiating, there’s a lot to like about this performance. With Kemba Walker on a minute restriction, and Jayson Tatum looking like he had never touched a basketball before (1-17 from the field) we only lost by 7. This really displayed the overall depth of the team, and the potential is really exciting.
Kemba has to get healthy and Tatum has to figure out the NBA actually restarted, but when that happens this team has a real shot at going on a deep playoff run.
(Originally posted on July 31, 2020)