All’s Fair In Finals, Including Few Fouls

MIAMI – The way these Miami and San Antonio teams are constructed, it’s likely that the 2013 Finals will be decided by part or all of somebody’s Big 3.

Just as long as it isn’t the NBA’s Big 3 – the three guys with whistles policing the action.

Evaluated in players’ terms, the Game 1 crew of Monty McCutchen, Tony Brothers and Jason Phillips didn’t exactly fill up the box score Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. They assessed only 24 personal fouls, the fewest in Finals history by a considerable margin. On June 7, 2007, the Spurs (15) and LeBron James‘ Cleveland Cavaliers (16) combined for just 31 fouls. Five nights later, they nearly matched that with 32.

Each team was called for just 12 fouls, breaking the mark of 13 shared by the Lakers (in a 1988 Finals game against Detroit) and the Spurs (against New York en route to the 1999 title).

It’s not entirely clear whether the Spurs and the Heat played clean, finesse basketball, the refs Thursday let some contact slide or some combination of the two. But fewer whistles makes for a relatively breezy game, whether participating or viewing. And from the sound of it, the players are fine without undue clock stoppages and trudges to the foul line.

“You just hope they’re consistent more than anything,” San Antonio’s Tim Duncan said before his team’s practice session Saturday. “Consistency is all we’re kind of worried about. If you go out there and get a ticky-tack foul, and [then] get beat up on one, those things are frustrating.

“The Finals are usually a lot more physical and you get away with a bit more than you do in the regular season. I think everybody understands that and is okay with that.”

Based on regular-season performance, this didn’t figure to be a whistle-heavy series. San Antonio, averaging 17.4 personals per game, committed fewer fouls than any other team in the league, while Miami ranked 23rd at 18.7 fpg. Only five Heat players and three Spurs fouled out of games during the season; in the playoffs, it’s three and none.

The teams shot 35 free throws, 18 by Miami, 17 by the Spurs. This season, the Heat ranked 10th (23.0) in average free throw attempts, while San Antonio was 21st with 21.0.

Miami’s Ray Allen, who prefers to score his points three at a time anyway, said most players prefer fewer whistles.

“I’d rather there be no calls made,” Allen said. “We all can adjust to that, as opposed to not knowing if you’re being over-aggressive. One thing offensively about this league is, guys are going to come at you [with the ball] and there’s a point where you have to hold your ground. Sometimes you’re trying to decide, ‘Do I open up or do I stand there? And if I stand there, am I going to be called [for] a foul?’ I’d definitely have it be a more physical game where the referees just let us play.”


  1. Also why is it that for both of gms 1 & 2 wade & lbj have a total of 3 fouls combined-2 for lbj in gm 2 & 1 for wade in gm 2 & 0 each for gm 1. Yet Spurs hot shooter Green foul trouble each gm-3 in gm 1 & 4 in gm 2. It seems on paper both gms were called even but the key is who they’re called on & @ which point in the game-like Duncan’s early bad calls in gm 1 yet they still won. As physical as both lbj & wade are how do they both have next to no fouls after 2 gms-again 0 fouls on them in gm 1. Spurs would have probably sweep heat if calls were completely consistent-especially w/ heat key players taking them off the floor @ key points in the game like refs did to Green when he was hot in gm 2.
    Go Spurs!!!

  2. HEAT hater! says:

    Heat will lose again later!!! hahahaha

  3. Mary says:

    So Stern/NBA thinks that Miami needs help and they send Crawford in to officiate game 2. LOL, what a sham!

  4. JimD54 says:

    I’d rather there would be no calls also then watch the Heat get pampered all the way to another title, if the refs are going to no call, no call both ways…They already no call on Lebron, he’s the only player I’ve ever seen who plays as physical as he does, all game long, and NEVER fouls anyone. He played all of game one and never committed a foul, no even one? Come on, One game against the Pacers he fouled out the game right after that he again fouls no one, either he fouls of he doesn’t he can’t turn it off from game to game, but the refs can, and when they want Miami to win they don’t call fouls on LeBron, when they want to stretch a series they do, last year against OKC the only game Miami lost was the one where leBron fouled out, every other game the refs pampered the Heat and cheated OKC 4 straight games, several of those games LeBron again fouled no one… Any one can see that’s what happening…It’s not the players it’s the refs that are messing up the game. they pick the team they want to win and then cheat to make it so….

  5. True Fan says:

    whatever, this writer is a hater, everyone who follows nba blog knows about this, i still wonder why the nba still allows him to write articles

  6. & The Spurs didn’t play @ the top of their game is what’s most scary & still won! I knew Kawhi would be fine & do a great job on lbj-great 1st game! Nobody on heat can handle or slow Parker down, it’s just not happening! & No miami big-bosh, bird, haslem, or anthony just can’t handle Duncan-& to think we could have drafted Duncan in Boston. Keep it up Spurs. Finally-some fairly called games since ecf to finals-except the 1st foul called on Duncan in the 1st qu-u know, the one where he was just standing there-NOT jumping-w/ both arms strait in the air-yeah that one, the def NO CALL just good defense. Still have a ways to go to be truly fair called when u have lbj & wade w/ 0-yes 0 fouls in game 1-how does that happen? Were they just not playing defense?
    Spurs are a better team!
    Go Spurs-Spurs All The Way!!!

  7. J says:

    thats funny… today i watched the celtics clitch their 11th title in 1969 on dvd over the lakers and there were tonnes of fouls they shouldnt call it like that but not to few either id say somewhere in the middle maybe 20 total
    heat in 6!!!

  8. esboa says:

    bring back Laimbeer !!!

  9. JamieB says:

    The Spurs at their absolute best is never gonna be better than the Heat at their absolute best. They played as expected in Game 1 and won it because Miami simply weren’t giving it their all. Thirteen points and five rebounds by the big man is dismal. Bosh is Big 3, huh? And I thought no one can be softer than Pau. He seems to forget sometimes that there is no W that precedes NBA.

  10. Kamote says:

    Yeah, hopefully they’d let the players play their game. Have more focus though on players who does an occasional flop. Its really disruptive of the game when someone tries to sell a foul (or an offensive foul).

    Refs should also be more focused on travelling calls. This stuff has changed a lot since the 80’s. From palming the ball to do a crossover, to shifting the pivot foot (where MJ usually gets away from), to the rabbit-hop, to the 4-step none dribble on a finish.

    There’s one instance that when Wade’s drive to the basket was challenged by Duncan, he just landed back with the ball with his hands, without Duncan even touching the ball. And even if Duncan touched it, if it wasn’t knocked out off Wade’s hands, that should be a travelling call. These things bring ILLITERACY to younger generation fans on how the game is played. I really found it funny back in Indy-Miami series that the Heat fans are mad when Wade was called for a travel on the crucial minutes. Wade caught the ball with his left hand, made a dribble, picked the ball up, pump-faked and dribbled the ball again. That’s a TRAVEL.

    I really hope they’d be a little strict when it comes to these rules in the game. A lot of the young ones are just becoming stupid when it comes to basketball basics.

  11. anon. says:

    Full credit to the referees for doing a good job of letting the players decide who wins the game instead of them influencing the outcome, but somehow i doubt this will continue especially if miami gets too far behind in the scoreboard..
    by the way, who is gonna referee game 2?

  12. Number 13 says:

    There’s still at least 3 more games for the refs to get involved.

  13. LakersWillWin says:

    Great, and necessary article. It did need to be addressed. No one is winning based on refs this series. (hopefully)

    May the best team win.

  14. El Ueapo says:

    Having a banana while i think about Lebron

  15. Loki says:

    I’m so glad someone wrote this article. Lots of this stuff needed to be said! Love what Ray Allen added to it! Seriously, the constant stoppage for stupid calls kills the game. You call the spurs boring? What’s boring is stopping a game every five seconds to call a foul.

    Leniency and skill on the player’s parts I think it was a little of both. I found both teams defense great but I didn’t think they were too aggressive to the point of needing foul calls. I hope this can keep up throughout the series so we can spend more time seeing plays run and less watching the game pause at the free throw line.

  16. Miami is definitely going to win let’s go Miami!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    …… Miami going to win tomorrow people just watch!

  17. Miami is definetly going to win let’s go miami!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. realtalk says:

    Truth hurts, but I think both Bosh and Wade have let the fact that LBJ is obviously the Heats leader and has repeated as MVP effect their play, not to say they are sabatoging, but maybe their egos are bruised knowing that from now on its LBJ’s legacy and they are supporting cast, body language speaks volumes, and at times they both seem to be doing more harm than good on both ends of the floor.

  19. Filipino Idiot says:

    If Lebron loses the finals again this year, he will go to the Lakers

  20. Game Time says:

    I think the officials did a pretty good job for game 1. Not like the Indy vs Miami series. It would be nice to see them let the game play out more. Just call the obvious hacks or push’s and not the “that might have” been stuff.