May 282011

Towards the end of the Miami Heat’s come from behind victory over the Chicago Bulls in game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals a casual comment made by one of the TNT announcing team caught the attention of the sports department here at This gem of info was that the Heat have yet to outscore any opponent from anywhere on the floor except the free throw line. Interesting and very verifiable this was something worth digging into. A browser was launched and pointed at CBS Sports as it was time to go box score diving and see what we could find.

The Numbers

The results were staggering to say the least, if the free throw attempt disparity between the Heat and their opponents was removed “The Big Three” would be watching from their living rooms just like the majority of us, not suiting up to play for the trophy. But this has nothing to do with the players, they would be foolish not to capitalize on the one-sided officiating, and its not like they can overrule the official and turn down a free shot anyway. If you were practically guaranteed a whistle every time you took the ball to the hole your game would quickly adapt to that dynamic. There’s no point in pointing out every game where the Heat were given more free throws, often more than 2X the trips to the line! In fact out of the 15 games so far this postseason just 3 times the Heat have taken less free throws then their opponent. Overall the Heat have attempted 133 more free throws than their opponents, worth 121 points. Combined number of points that the Heat have outscored their opponents by this postseason? 70 points. Add those free points to the frustration by not getting calls on the other end and there isn’t much hope for the team without the Heat logo blazed across their chest.

These are just numbers, to really assess the situation the film would need to be reviewed. Its entirely possible that every foul is being called in every situation and it just doesn’t look like it from the box scores. Or perhaps the fouls just aren’t being called on the other end of the floor, there is no reason both teams shouldn’t be going to the line 30+ times per game. Because those games are so fun to watch. One statistic is a little harder to track down, the total dollar amount of fines imposed on Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for criticizing officiating, but it looks to be over one million dollars. Surely the band Fall Out Boy was not being prophetic when they sang on the tune West Coast Smoker “The bulls are sedated and this fights fixed” and the officiating gets a “Stern” warning before the start of The Finals so we can enjoy some basketball and not a free throw competition with one team getting more chances than the other.

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