We're only one game into the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Celtics and Heat, and Doc Rivers is already in Finals form with his sharp criticism of the officials.
Specifically, the C's coach takes issue with the calling and non-calling of flagrant fouls so far in this series. There was only one flagrant called in Game 1 on Sunday afternoon, a type 1 call on Jermaine O'Neal, and Rivers doesn't like it. There should have been either three, Rivers says, or zero.
J.O. got whistled for his flagrant with 2:30 left in the third quarter Sunday. After James Jones knocked down a 3 in his face on one end of the floor, O'Neal came down the court and decked Jones as he went after an offensive rebound.
That one got called. But the following quarter, Paul Pierce got hit hard, twice, once by Jones and a second time by Dwyane Wade. Those weren't whistled as flagrant fouls, and they both instead escalated to double technicals and ultimately Pierce's ejection.
"I didn't think it was a flagrant — or, it was, and the other ones were too," Rivers said of O'Neal's foul. "That's the only thing I'm saying. If Jermaine's was a flagrant, then the other two were. If Jermaine's is taken away, then the other two are not [flagrant]."
In other words, it's a matter of consistency.
"I think if we're calling flagrants the way we've been calling flagrants, and you go up at the head, then that's a flagrant foul," Rivers argued. "But do I actually think any of them were flagrants? No. I really don't. I don't think J.O.'s was, and I don't think any of them were flagrants, honestly. But if we're going to start citing the rule book on why we give techs and stuff, then that's a flagrant."
The coach himself went on to say that he wasn't a fan of flagrant fouls in general — he played in an earlier era when the refs were more lenient and the game was more physical, especially come playoff time.
Rivers is trying to strike a delicate balance — he's complaining about the way games are officiated, but at the same time, he's not allowing his players to make excuses.
"I'm not a fan of the whole flagrant thing," he said. "I think I've made that clear over the last five years. But if that's the rule, then that's not going to change. I don't care, really. Honestly, it's over. I could care less. We're far more concerned about preparing our team for Game 2 than we are with whether the league's going to give a flagrant or take a flagrant away. It will have no impact on Game 2."
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