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Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors Game 2 preview

NBA: Playoffs-Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s get salty.

Look, I’m never going to pretend that the referees didn’t screw the Houston Rockets out of a Finals appearance (and probable championship) in 2017-18. Scott Foster and his brethren swallowed their whistles in key moments and it doomed Houston.

I hate that this series has turned into a discussion about referees and landing space. I hate that Steve Kerr gets to pretend that he’s above the fray when in reality he’s a hypocrite since he has had his run-ins with officials in the past. I hate that people are only taking the last 3-point attempt by James Harden where he fell down and extrapolating that to every other attempt that he missed. I wish this game could just be decided by the players on the court and not the three men in gray.

But here we are. So we have to address the issue.

The Rockets saw this coming. In a memo they communicated to the league, they lamented a lack of calls on Harden’s three-point attempts. So of course, the league took this information and...completely ignored it and repeated the same mistakes in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Even after exposing Scott Foster and his crew for screwing them out of a Finals appearance, the NBA assigned Foster to a high-profile Rockets game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

When the referees have a 50/50 call on a Harden three or a drive to the basket, they have two choices:

  1. Give Houston free throws.
  2. Let play continue, almost always leading to an open three or dunk for the Warriors since it’s a 5-on-4 situation.

If they actually called 50/50 calls 50/50, this wouldn’t be a problem. The issue is that they seem to always pick option number two. That hurts Houston time and time again. And that gets combined with this: the Warriors are already the best team in the NBA. They have all the talent in the world. You need a lot of things to go your way to beat them, even if you have the talent that teams like Houston and Milwaukee possess.

If the Warriors are going to get the friendly whistle in addition to all their talent, why are we even playing the games?

No team gets more help than Golden State. And they’re the one team that doesn’t need any help whatsoever. They could probably win a title even if the referees hated them!

I have no clue how Houston will bounce back tonight. I’m still frustrated by Game 1, but luckily I don’t have to play tonight. Houston has to get more out of Chris Paul. Ditto for Clint Capela. The Warriors will have worked on their game plan to take advantage of Nene’s lack of mobility. Part of me wants to say “Houston has to shoot better,” but if Houston had gotten the correct foul calls in Game 1 then their shooting percentage would have looked a lot better.

All I know is that there won’t be another game with such scrutinized officiating as there will be tonight. And when the league knows that a game is important, they’ll want a steady hand to man the tiller and get as many calls correct as possible. They know there’s only one man for the job.

Tip-off is at 9:30pm CT on TNT