By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The NBA has announced the referees for Wednesday night’s Game 5 at TD Garden, and there may be a slight advantage for … the Celtics?
As announced via the official NBA Referees account on Twitter, the three officials for Wednesday night have been announced: James Capers Jr., Tom Washington, and Zach Zarba.
Anyone who watched Game 4 on Monday night couldn’t help but wonder what the hell was going on with Scotty Walnuts, a.k.a. Scott Foster. The same Scott Foster who became infamous for his “friendship” and hundreds of phone calls with disgraced former referee and known illegal gambler Tim Donaghy. So thankfully, Foster is not going to be patrolling the TD Garden court on Wednesday.
But you may still be interested to know that, between the three officials for Game 5, their collective playoff history has slightly favored home teams. While it’s not necessarily an appreciable advantage, it’s not as glaring as what you get from Foster, who has officiated the last three games against teams down 3-0 – all wins to extend the series.
There may be no such engineering going on this time.
The sketchiest referee of the three is Zarba, whose games have posted a 3-4 record for home teams so far this postseason, according to Basketball Reference. He’s averaged 20.1 personal foul calls against home players, against 19.3 for those on the road. The home team winning percentage is minus-.602 below the average mark in terms of win percentage.
Capers and Washington, however, offer more hope that the officiating will be on the level on Wednesday. They’ve combined for a 9-4 record (.692) for the home teams in games they’ve officiated in the 2018 playoffs. On the other hand, based on their foul data the calls could still have a slight chance to go Philly’s way.
Washington, in particular, has called an average of 23 fouls on home teams compared to 21.8 against visitors. Capers’ average foul calls are virtually identical, but lean ever-so-slightly in favor of home teams at 21.7 vs. 21.9.
So the fouls may continue to frustrate Celtics fans on Wednesday night – the NBA certainly wouldn’t mind the Sixers getting one more home game out of this if they can force a Game 6 – but the home team records are certainly encouraging.
If the Celtics can shoot respectably and figure out a way to stop the Sixers’ T.J. McConnell, they’ll give themselves a great chance of closing out the series. And of course, they’ll need to make their effin’ free throws. Regardless of whatever zebras are trotting along the sidelines.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.