I think I’m going to have to go through the proper channels like they did if we can figure out how we can get some more free throws.Mike Malone, House of Highlights
I guess ‘telling on you’ is the new way of dealing with seemingly inadequate officiating. The Rockets set a precedent with their own version of ‘formal complaint,’ the Lakers took it to the next level, and Denver is about to do the same. But on what grounds?
Over the course of the series, both teams attempted the exact same number of free throws – 113. Basic statistical analysis wise, it doesn’t get any fairer than that. Now, if you want to dissect it game-by-game, some discrepancies will occur. In their Game 1 blowout win – the Lakers shot 9 more free throws than Denver (37-28). Game 2, the Nuggets had a big advantage (33-19), and they also shot more in Game 3 on Tuesday night (29-22). One formal complaint later, the balance shifted back in favor of LA, as they’ve attempted 35 free throws in Game 4 compared to Denver’s 23.
Let’s compare those to their regular season runs. The Nuggets averaged nearly 21 FTs per contest, while the Lakers went to the line 24.3 times on a per-game basis. Both of those numbers are up to 28 in their WCF matchup, as it seems both teams are getting an equal treatment by the refs. Except for the occasional overlook like this LeBron foul on Jamal Murray. But it goes both ways.
So I wouldn’t put such an emphasis on officiating. It’s only getting in the way of otherwise great Conference Finals series, as the Lakers will look to close it out on Saturday and advance to their first NBA Finals since ’10. But Denver won’t go down without the fight. They are right where they want to be – down 3-1, and ready for another historical upset. Winning on Saturday is the first step in doing so.