The Chicago Bulls never lose in front of a TNT audience when playing at home on Thursday nights and that trend bizarrely continued this week against the Boston Celtics. Chicago’s insane streak of 17 (!) consecutive wins under those circumstances lives on after a 104-103 victory and, this time, the Bulls were aided by a highly controversial whistle with less than one second remaining.
On Chicago’s previous possession, Jimmy Butler was locked down by Marcus Smart and committed a turnover with approximately 30 seconds remaining. After a missed shot from Isaiah Thomas on the other end, it was Butler against Smart again and, in the second encounter, Butler’s attempt at a game-winning jump shot went begging. However, Smart was whistled for a (very) soft foul, sending Butler to the line where he was able to make both free throws to secure a victory.
While the contact to Butler’s elbow probably constitutes a foul by the technical definition of the rule, this type of soft contact being called with the game on the line does not sit well with many, including those clad in green and white. To be fair, Butler did have to make both shots at the charity stripe to escape with a victory, but Celtics fans (and Brad Stevens, by the looks of the video) would undoubtedly argue that the free throw attempts never should have materialized.
The Chicago Bulls just can’t lose on a Thursday night at home with the entire NBA world watching and this one put that theory to the test in a big way.