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NBA playoffs mean fewer whistles

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McClatchy
April 16, 2011
— No one with the NBA will admit it, but the game fans watch for months in the regular season is officiated differently once the playoffs start.

Fouls that were called in the regular season suddenly fall under the category of a referee swallowing his whistle. It is, as they say, what it is.


When he was asked why the same fouls that are called in the regular season aren't called in the playoffs, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said, "You're asking me a very loaded question. You're suggesting that games are officiated differently in the playoffs?"


When told that conspiracy theorists really do believe the games are indeed officiated differently in the playoffs, Carlisle finally relented.


"Playoff basketball is a game of familiarity, because over the course of 10 days or two weeks you get to know everything about your opponent. And so with that comes a heightened physical disposition by both teams, and officiating is always an important factor in games.


"The biggest thing is you want consistency. In our league and I've watched college basketball and I've watched other sports we have the most consistency with our officials of any leagues in pro sports, in my opinion."


Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who has had more than his share of confrontations with the league office regarding officiating, would not say whether he believes the game is officiated differently in the playoffs. But he did share an interesting tidbit regarding swingman Corey Brewer.


In the first few games after the Mavericks acquired Brewer on March 3, he kept getting whistled for ticky-tacky fouls. During the first 3 years of his career with the Minnesota Timberwolves, it was a different story.


"What he said was that those weren't fouls when he played for Minnesota," Cuban said. "He said he did the exact same thing and they didn't call them.


"I just think he's adjusted to the fact that what he got away with in Minnesota he doesn't get away with here."


And why is that?


Said Cuban: "I ain't going there."


Mavericks guard Jason Terry said he fully understands why aggressive play is enhanced in the playoffs and players can get away with more on the court.


"In the playoffs, obviously you worked so hard to get here, and now it's a situation where the refs want to let the talent on the court take place," Terry said. "The games are better officiated in the playoffs.


"Just from the perspective, there's no back-to-backs, the referees are fresher, the players are fresher and they want to see action. They don't want to see a lot of stoppage of play."


The Mavericks geared up for the aggressive play the NBA playoffs have to offer when they turned up the heat in the second half of Wednesday's regular-season finale against the New Orleans Hornets. The Mavs outscored the Hornets after halftime 63-28 as they prepared for how life is in the playoffs.


Dallas opens Game 1 of its best-of-seven series tonight at home against Portland. And that promises to be a series where aggressive play will be at a premium.


"New Orleans is a physical team, Portland is actually bigger from top to bottom, so they're going to be even more physical in a certain way," Carlisle said. "And so we're going to have to be ready for a very physical series."



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