Thought both the 1st and 3rd fouls were called wrong. I also have no doubt whatsoever that NBA refs are told to watch for certain things and/or watch certain players. It also doesn't feel like the first time since Lebron went to Miami that after a Lebron loss the opposition suddenly gets called extremely tight and someone gets in foul trouble the very next game.
So I am an NBA conspiracy theorist. Sorry. 2002 LA-Sacramento, 2010 LA-Celtics and Tim Donaghy ruined me in that way.
These are great examples. I know I'm a biased Celtics fan/Lakers hater, but I don't see how anyone can look at the first two examples above and give any justification for the awful officiating in those series.
I don't think of myself as a conspiracy theorist, but maybe I am. I have no doubt that the league wants certain teams and players to appear on the biggest stage—the NBA Finals—and that referees thus call different things for different players/teams. I feel confident saying the NBA doesn't want Indiana anywhere near the conference finals, much less the NBA Finals, and certainly not at the expense of knocking LeBron out of the playoffs in the first round. There are always going to be bad calls, or at least borderline calls, but I just don't see how the officials couldn't see Love lean into Oladipo on Love's 3pt attempt. In fact, in watching/listening to the video of that play, the whistle is blown at the exact moment Oladipo makes contact with Love, which is not how the foul/whistle sequencing usually works. It's like the ref already knew Oladipo was going to commit a foul, or had already made up his mind that there was going to be a foul on the play, no matter what.
If that makes me a conspiracy theorist, that's fine by me. It's obvious to me that superstars get more calls than nonsuperstars, that vets get more calls than rookies, and that refs often call games differently in the last couple minutes than they do the rest of the game—all of which, to me, are unacceptable.