Jaylen Brown had a reasonable take on officiating in Celtics-Bucks originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Celtics’ Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Milwaukee Bucks is the most physical of the NBA’s four current playoff matchups.
That means the officials have had their hands full trying to determine what is and isn’t a foul — with mixed results.
Jaylen Brown was on the wrong side of one controversial call in Monday’s Game 4 when he collided with Jrue Holiday late in the third quarter. Holiday was initially assessed a blocking foul, but the call was overturned to an offensive foul on Brown after Milwaukee challenged, giving Brown five fouls and forcing him to the bench at a key moment in the game.
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When asked about that call two days later, Brown still didn’t agree with how the refs saw it.
“To be honest, the game was called very interesting,” Brown told reporters Wednesday prior to Game 5 in Boston. “I’m not one to comment too much on officiating. We found a way to win anyway. But I guess it was a tough call.
“I don’t think I lowered my shoulder, I wasn’t out of control. My defender made a good read, but I thought that was for sure a blocking foul. But I guess I’m not an official, and I guess they saw it differently, so really nothing I could do there.”
Brown managed to avoid fouling out, and the Celtics erupted for 43 fourth-quarter points Monday to earn an impressive 116-108 win. Foul trouble has been an issue for the C’s all series, though, as they’ve tried to be as physical as possible on Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo without fouling.
That’s a difficult line to walk, and Brown believes the officials should give Boston a little more leeway when defending Antetokounmpo.
“Milwaukee, especially with Giannis, presents a different challenge,” Brown said. “His level of physicality is extremely high, and for somebody who initiates the contact, we feel like we should be able to initiate some contact on the defensive end as well. But, with the way they usually officiate the game, that’s not usually the case.
“So it challenges our discipline. We’ve got to be extremely disciplined and extremely focused, because if not, you pick up fouls that you sometimes look back on and be like, ‘Man, how did they call that?'”
Wary of being too critical of the refs, Brown was quick to add that officiating Antetokounmpo is no easy task.
“I bet it’s tough trying to officiate a game with a dominant player like Giannis on the court because he’s aggressive all the time,” Brown said. “So in real time, it might look harder than it does on camera.”
Antetokounmpo initiates hard contact on nearly drive to the basket, and that’s an essential part of his game. That means the refs have to make a judgment call on nearly every Bucks possession regarding how much contact to allow.
Brown did a good job saying his peace about the officiating without crossing the line, so perhaps he’ll be on the other side of a few whistles in Game 5.
NBC Sports Boston’s coverage of Game 5 begins at 6 pm ET with “Celtics Pregame Live.”