NBA players complain to the referees like there’s no tomorrow.
You won’t see a single call in an NBA game where a player agrees with the call on the floor, shrugs his shoulders, and congratulates the referee for a job well done. Instead, the hands go up, a sarcastic smile spreads across the face, and the conversation begins between the disgruntled player and referee.
It’s exhausting, frustrating, and at times, unwatchable.
The Boston Celtics are no stranger to this type of behavior, which should come as no surprise for a young team in its first NBA Finals appearance.
In Boston’s Game 5 loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Celtics were assessed two technical fouls, including one to head coach Ime Udoka.
Udoka admitted following Game 5 that the Celtics were too focused on the referees in the 104-94 loss.
“I think we’re complaining at times too much throughout the game,” Udoka said, according to The Athletic. “Late game may not be any different than first, second or third quarter. Something we need to block out and be better at overall.”
Celtics big man Al Horford also admitted that the refs got to the Celtics in Game 5, saying that their frustration with calls impacted the way they played the game.
“Yeah, not our best moment,” Al Horford said, according to NBC Sports Boston. “As you guys know, I feel like we’ve been able to fend those things off, especially throughout the playoffs. For whatever reason tonight I feel like it got to us.
“It’s one of those things that we kind of brought it back. We were able to focus back in, but we can never let that get to us. We can’t let that affect our game, the way that things are being played.”
With Game 6 just hours away, Boston is facing elimination in the organization’s first NBA Finals appearance since 2010. Boston has faced elimination three times during this year’s playoffs, fighting back from a 3-2 series deficit against the Milwaukee Bucks and winning a Game 7 in Miami in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
“We know [the Celtics are] going to play with a sense of desperation,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said, according to ESPN. “So for us to match that or exceed that, it’s going to take the most effort we’ve had to give all year.”
Game 6 tips off Thursday, June 16 at 9:00 p.m. ET.