Ime Udoka, Celtics admit officials ‘got to us’ in Game 5 loss

"Probably something we shouldn't do as much and we all did too much."

Ime Udoka and the Celtics had multiple heated discussions with the refs in their Game 5 loss. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staf

The Celtics got frustrated again with the officiating in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Their head coach was the first guilty party of complaining too much to the officials. With less than a second left in the first quarter, Ime Udoka was hit with a technical foul after Robert Williams was called for a shooting foul on Andrew Wiggins. The foul call came after the Warriors retained possession after it appeared Steph Curry was the last player to touch the ball before it went out of bounds, setting up for the foul call on Williams.

Udoka said he was told that “part” of the reason why he was called for a technical there was because he was out of the coach’s box.


Boston’s frustration with the officiating continued into the second half. After Jordan Poole made a deep 3 at the buzzer to put Golden State up despite Boston’s 35-point quarter, Udoka had a heated discussion with official Tony Brothers.

“He didn’t like how I pointed at him,” Udoka said.

That interaction set the stage for the frustration to reach a boiling point in the fourth quarter. Celtics point guard Marcus Smart sold contact Warriors guard Klay Thompson made on him, trying to force an offensive foul. No call was made and instead, Thompson buried a wide-open 3-pointer to give the Warriors seven straight points to start the fourth.

Following a Celtics timeout, Smart was hit with a technical for his interaction with Poole after Warriors forward Draymond Green was called for a defensive foul. When the Celtics got set to in-bound the ball following the foul, Smart battled for position with Poole. The Warriors’ guard appeared to exaggerate the contact Smart made with, drawing an offensive foul call on Smart.

The Warriors extended their lead to 10 on the next possession and the Celtics never brought their lead down to closer than seven for the rest of the game.

Udoka admitted he and everyone on the Celtics were guilty of getting too caught up with the officiating throughout Game 5.

“I think it was a little bit of that throughout the game. So not necessarily only in the fourth,” Udoka said. “Probably something we shouldn’t do as much and we all did too much.”


Celtics forward Al Horford agreed that the team let the officials get in their heads.

“Yeah, not our best moment,” Horford said. “As you guys know, I feel like we’ve been able to fend those things off, especially throughout the playoffs. For whatever reason tonight I feel like it got to us.

“It’s one of those things that we kind of brought it back. We were able to focus back in, but we can never let that get to us. We can’t let that affect our game, the way that things are being played.

“We feel like we can control a lot of those things. It’s something that we have to move on from and be better on Thursday.”

Tatum also expressed frustration throughout Monday’s Game 5, believing he was fouled multiple times when driving to the rim. He delivered a similar message though as Udoka and Horford after the game.

“In those situations, especially on the road, regardless if we feel like calls are going our way or not, just in those moments we just got to be better not letting distractions, things like that, distract us,” Tatum said. “Down one going into the fourth quarter, just got to focus on what’s important at the time.


“That’s on all of us. We’ll regroup and bounce back. I’m sure of it.”

Despite any complaints the Celtics had about the officiating in Game 5, they actually had more free throws (31 to 15) and fewer fouls called (16 to 28) than the Warriors.

The Celtics will have to keep their attention though on the Warriors following the Game 5 loss. Boston is down 3-2 in the series, meaning it must win two games in a row in order to win the title.


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