One of the most controversial referees in the NBA will get the call Monday night when the Boston Celtics take on the Brooklyn Nets in a win-or-go-home Game 4 for the hosts.
Foster has gained the public perception of being somewhat of an extender when it comes to playoff series — doing so most recently Saturday as the Toronto Raptors fended off elimination against the Philadelphia 76ers, who now lead the series 3-1. That mindset probably has some Celtics fans feeling a bit uneasy as Brooklyn now enters the same situation Toronto did two nights prior.
The Nets enter Monday’s contest as a 1-point favorite, despite not covering in Saturday’s Game 3 when they entered as a 3.5-point favorite. Brooklyn opened as a 2.5-point favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook immediately following Saturday’s loss, but the line since has shifted.
The real issue with Foster, though, isn’t always that he favors one team over another but more so that he tends to make the game about himself. Simply put, he creates and seems to enjoy controversy all while having a quick temper when it comes to throwing out technical fouls with game-altering calls.
In the big picture, Boston has fared fine with Foster as the Celtics are 65-59 (.524 win percentage) in games he has officiated. However, the Celtics rank second in personal fouls against (22.4 fouls per game) in Foster’s contests, trailing only the Utah Jazz (22.7). Boston’s opponents have been called for 21.3 fouls per game, which ranks 16th. In turn, Boston’s opponents shoot more free throws than all but the Jazz (25.6 free throws per game) when Foster officiates. The Celtics, in comparison, shoot 23.9 free throws per game, which again ranks far down the list. It’s fair to note that Foster has officiated the Celtics 124 times, which ranks second behind only the Dallas Mavericks (134).
The Nets have a worse win percentage than the Celtics in Foster-officiated games (48-59, .449). Brooklyn’s numbers when it comes to differing from opponents are practically identical, however. The Nets have a razor-thin edge in free throws attempted (24.5 to 24.3) while both them and their opponents have been called for an identical average of 21.4 fouls per game.
In Foster’s home-road splits this season, the home team, and perhaps surprisingly, has received fewer foul calls and free throws. Visiting teams, like the Celtics in this case, have shot 22.4 free throws per game while home teams have shot 20.5. That being said, small home favorites are 5-1 against the spread this season, but that sort of stat needs the appropriate context: It’s much easier to cover a small line than a bigger one, especially for a favored home team.
Celtics-Nets is set for 7 p.m. ET at Barclays Center.