Game 5 of the NBA Finals looks like a classic case of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object: The Boston Celtics are undefeated coming off a loss this postseason (7-0), but the officiating crew for Monday night’s showdown at Chase Center seemingly favors the Golden State Warriors.
Marc Davis (crew chief), Tony Brothers (referee) and Josh Tiven (umpire) will work Game 5, which comes on the heels of Golden State winning Game 4 at TD Garden to tie the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
This is notable, as the Celtics historically have struggled with Brothers on the whistle, especially during the playoffs in recent years.
Boston is 7-15 SU in 22 career postseason games officiated by Brothers, the fifth-worst winning percentage (.318) among teams with at least 10 games called by the veteran ref. The Celtics have a minus-6 average point differential in those games, along with a minus-3.5 average free-throw attempt differential.
As BetMGM’s John Ewing noted Monday on Twitter, the Celtics are 3-12 SU and 4-11 ATS in their last 15 playoff games officiated by Brothers since 2015.
Tiven hasn’t exactly been kind to the C’s, either. Boston is 2-6 SU in playoff games officiated by Tiven.
Conversely, Golden State is 12-8 SU all-time in playoff games officiated by Brothers, with a plus-2.5 average point differential despite a minus-5.1 average free-throw attempt differential. The Warriors are 7-1 SU all-time in playoff games officiated by Tiven, with a plus-7.3 average point differential.
Of course, the officiating ultimately might not matter, but the Celtics sometimes focus too much on whether the calls are going their way. And when that happens, it puts Boston at risk of losing focus of what really matters — avoiding turnovers, moving the basketball, being aggressive in driving to the basket, locking in defensively, etc.
As of Monday afternoon, the Warriors were 3.5-point favorites for Game 5 of the NBA Finals at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the total set at 210.5.