The NBA Finals head to Game 5 on Monday night after the Cavaliers fought off a Warriors sweep with a 137-116 win in Game 4 in Cleveland to push the series back to Oakland. While LeBron James and Kyrie Irving led the way with tremendous performances again, and the rest of the Cavs’ supporting cast finally showed up on offense, there was lots of discussion about the officiating in Game 4.
Cleveland went to the free throw line 22 times in the first quarter on the way to a 49-point quarter. Everyone in the arena thought Draymond Green had been assessed a technical foul in the first half, so when he was hit with one in the second half it was assumed he’d been ejected. Instead, it was revealed that the first technical had been given to Steve Kerr, and thus, Draymond was able to stay in the game. There was also a strange no-call on a Zaza Pachulia low blow that led to double technicals (one on him, and one on Iman Shumpert, the guy he punched in the nether region), and some general rough play in the paint that seemed to go unnoticed later in the game.
Whenever the officiating becomes a storyline, one side naturally cries foul and conspiracy theories begin flying about how the NBA is rigging the series to go deeper. Draymond Green’s mother perpetuated the “refs are being paid to extend the Finals” theory on Twitter that many have latched onto, and disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy came in to stoke the conspiracy fire on Monday.