Turnovers – not refs – cost Boston Game 2 vs Dubs, but that doesn’t mean the NBA doesn’t have a problem with consistency

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“It’s the NBA Finals,” said Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green via ESPN’s Malika Andrews after helping his Dubs rattle the Boston Celtics into committing 18 turnovers on the way to a 107-88 blowout win. “I wear my badge of honor,” he added, referring to how he was called by the referees in his efforts to help force those turnovers.”

“It’s not that I’m saying they necessarily treat me different — I’ve earned differential treatment. I enjoy that. I embrace that,” added Green. It’s safe to say that the Celtics he faced and their fans did not share that sentiment, taking issue in particular with how Green was allowed to seemingly tackle Grant Williams or instigate Jaylen Brown seemingly without consequence.

That the broadcast’s refereeing analyst Steve Javie openly admitted that referees treat some players differently than others based on whether they’d already received a technical foul during the broadcast likely did not help that impression.

Asked about his exchange with Green after the Game, Boston’s Brown said that the Warriors forward “fouled me on a 3 and put his legs on my head” while he tried to get up as both were sprawled on the ground.

“But that’s what they’re going to do,” he added. “That’s what he’s going to do. He’s going to try to muck the game up, try to raise the level of intensity.”

“We’ve got to raise ours,” suggested Brown. “I feel like they got away with a lot tonight, but we’ve got to come ready to play, come ready to meet that physicality on both ends.”

On one hand, how Green (and players like him) are officiated is a distinct and palpable issue in need of attention by the league, but on the other, it is not exactly a secret that players get star calls in the NBA.

That Boston allowed themselves to be bothered by such antics that are, for better or worse, a feature of the modern game and not a bug, to the tune of 18 turnovers is why they lost the game.

But that doesn’t mean this stance by the league is not a potentially dangerous and definitely problematic one.

Consistency in how fouls are assessed and handed out will only improve the game, and lessen the chance that turning a blind eye to such fouls to avoid ejecting a player pushing the limits of sportsmanlike play might result in fights and suspensions or worse, injury.

But such things are easier said than done with plenty of institutional inertia behind them. Could there be a parsimonious solution to be had?

There very well might be, at least per the suggestion of NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman in conversation with guest Kurt Helin on the latest episode of Feldman’s “Pro Basketball Talk” podcast: stop ejecting players for techs.

Such a change, as Feldman notes, would allow refs to call as many technical fouls on Draymond Green as he merits, with opponents still getting a free throw and possession.

It isn’t clear who is actually served by removing high-minutes, high-intensity players from important games, and when players cross the line into undeniably dangerous play, ejection via flagrant remains an option.

Anything the league can do to shift play to a more uniform standard should help shift focus away from refereeing, and back to the play of teams themselves.

“It’s nothing to be surprised about” that players will push boundaries when the stakes are highest, as Brown himself notes.

A seemingly simple change might do quite a lot towards improving the game, and like the Celtics star forward, we can collectively spend more time “looking forward to the challenge” of the next game instead of complaining about the last one.

This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook!

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