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Al Horford on Game 2 officiating: “It was definitely different”

Boston let the referees get in their way in Game 2, and moving forward, that cannot happen.

2022 NBA Finals - Game Two Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

In what has become a trend throughout the 2022 NBA Playoffs, the Boston Celtics got in their own way on Sunday night.

They suffered a 107-88 loss to the Golden State Warriors, and while the Dubs were on fire from the field, the Celtics didn’t do themselves any favors. They turned the ball over 19 times, resulting in 33 points off turnovers for Golden State. But while the turnovers are the stat most will point to, Boston lost control thanks to something that won’t show up in the box score: the refs.

Regardless of opinions on officiating, the way the game was called clearly affected the Celtics. Instead of letting the whistles roll off their shoulders, Boston engaged. They let their opinions on the calls affect the way they played, and that resulted in a poor performance.

Jaylen Brown talked about the Warriors’ “gimmicks” and “tricks” and how the Celtics have to be smarter with their approach moving forward.

I feel like they got away with a lot of stuff tonight. But I’m looking forward to the challenge next game. All that stuff, the gimmicks, the tricks, you know, we just got to be the smarter team. Be more physical team and look forward to just coming out and playing Celtic basketball.

The Warriors picked up 17 fouls on the game in comparison to the Celtics’ 18, while Boston shot 17 free throws to Golden State’s 20. The differentials were fairly even, but the Celtics often found themselves getting caught up in the moment.

One particular sticking point that Brown noted was a foul he picked up on Gary Payton II. He was called for making contact with Payton in transition, but the replay showed what Brown dubbed a “phantom call.”

I don’t feel like I touched Gary Payton. And I expressed that, but they called the foul on me, and that sat me down. I can’t let that be the reason why, in the second half, I wasn’t able to be as effective, but it definitely changed the game with that phantom call.

From that point on, Brown shot just 1-for-11 from the field and 0-of-5 from three-point range. He wasn’t able to match the effectiveness he displayed in the first period. The star noted that he needs to play through the officiating he disagrees with, but in this instance, it clearly changed the way he played.

Brown’s co-star, Jayson Tatum, was also critical of the officiating during his post-game press conference. He said that he didn’t believe the Celtics were getting the benefit of the doubt when they tried to match Golden State’s physicality.

I just kind of felt like, we weren’t getting the benefit of the doubt when we were trying to play with that physicality.

In the first quarter, Boston had racked up eight fouls to the Warriors’ three. Based on his statements, Tatum made it seem as though the Celtics didn’t think they got a fair shake of things. He even fell into Draymond Green’s trap. When he tried to press up on Green, the Warriors star drew the foul.

Head coach Ime Udoka was also unhappy with the way things were being officiated, as evidenced by a technical foul he picked up in the third quarter. And according to Udoka, he picked up that tech intentionally.

I just let them know how I felt throughout the game. In a demonstrative way. On purpose. To get a technical.

Udoka’s technical came after this play.

Clearly, Marcus Smart, Brown, and Udoka believe there was contact, but Green wasn’t called for a foul. Udoka took the chance to pick up a tech on purpose, likely in the hopes of getting his team fired up.

Celtics veteran Al Horford was asked about the exchange during his presser. The big man laughed, saying that he saw it coming and that the first half was called “differently,” but the Celtics expected as much.

I can imagine that was that I could see that coming a mile away. That whole first half. You know, it was definitely different, and we knew that it was going to be different, but we kind of wanted to just stay the course. And it is what it is.

Boston let the refs get to them, and if they want to win it all, that simply cannot be the case. Just as Horford stated, they just need to “stay the course.”

Game 3 of the NBA Finals will be this Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. EST.