The NBA today reviewed the two technicals given to Kendrick Perkins during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals and have decided to rescind the second technical assessed to him. This means that Perk will avoid the mandatory one game suspension for any player with seven technicals in the playoffs. This is huge news for the Boston Celtics who were looking at the possibility of being without Perk, Big Baby, and Rasheed Wallace for Game 6.
The Walking Wounded: What This Means For the Celtics
It isn't just Celtics fans breathing easier today but Doc Rivers as well. Doc can now avoid the headache of having to draw up a game plan for defending Dwight Howard with Kevin Garnett (tough mismatch), Sheldon Williams (Gulp!), and Brian Scalabrine (I just jumped off of a bridge). However, the Celtics still have a rash of injuries that could greatly affect the lineups we see from the Celtics in Game 6.
Big Baby is reportedly feeling much better and will be a game time decision. Marquis Daniels is most likely out after suffering a concussion as well. Rasheed Wallace continues to have stiffness in his back that limits his movement and Tony Allen's ankle is getting worse, leaving both of them doubtful for Game 6. What this means is Perk is going to really have to play a strong game and avoid foul trouble so that Doc won't have to use his bench too much.
If Perk gets two quick fouls early, the Celtics will be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do you cover Howard with an undersized defender and let him wreak havoc under the hoop? Or do you double Howard and free up the outside shot for Orlando. Perk is one of the best defensive centers in the league and the reason the Celtics played so well in Games 1 through 3 was because Perk was able to defend Howard on his own, leaving the other Celtics defenders free to swarm and defend the three-point shot.
Let the Players Decide the Outcome
The NBA made a good decision by taking away one technical and allowing Perk to play Game 6. However, it wasn't nearly enough. The NBA should have rescinded both technicals. Both of them were awful calls that let the refs decide the outcome, not the players. The Celtics were still hanging with the Magic at that point of the game but the wheels came off once Perk was ejected. What could have been a close and exciting game turned into a rout and has helped shift the momentum even further in the Magic's favor.
This is one of the main problems with the NBA. They would never rescind both technicals because they would admit wrong doing and tell the world "We screwed up and this mistake cost the Celtics a chance of winning Game 5." The NBA is completely ignoring a huge problem with uneven officiating from one contest to the next. While this adds a human element to the game, NBA referees are taking the next step by blatantly favoring superstars. As Josh pointed out, Dwight Howard has been able to roam free in the paint and get away with fouls that most average players wouldn't. On the flip side, Howard has been getting to the charity stripe way too often on questionable fouls.
History Repeating Itself
There are too many games in NBA history with questionable officiating affecting the outcome that are debated to this day. Game 6 of the '98 Finals between Jazz-Bulls (Jordan shoving Byron Russell to get the game winning shot), Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals between Kings-Lakers (an epic Kings collapse helped by bad officiating), and Games 3 and 4 of the 2006 Finals between Heat-Mavs (Tim Donaghy, 'nuff said). After this season, the NBA really needs to take a hard look at their refs and see the problem. Even the average fan can see when the league is blatantly extending a playoff series to make money. Eventually those fans will stop watching and paying to see this happen time and time again, especially in this down economy.
Wake up NBA. As Dwight Howard so eloquently put it early this series, "Pride comes before the fall."
Thanks to Lorianne DiSabato for the photo.