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Paul George basically said the NBA doesn’t call fouls against Pacers’ opponents on purpose

Nate McMillan and Myles Turner agree with PG-13 that the league officiates the Pacers unfairly.

Indiana Pacers v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Paul George thinks there’s a conspiracy. He’s been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amok, and someone’s gonna get it if something doesn’t change.

Well, it might not be that dramatic, but that’s the tone George’s comments set after he attempted just one free throw and his Indiana Pacers attempted just 10 in their 90-85 Monday loss to the Chicago Bulls. This is a trend the All-Star forward says has gone unnoticed for years.

"I've been fined multiple times," George told reporters on Monday. "I've been vocal to the point where the league issues [a statement], 'Hey, we missed a call. Hey, we missed that.' Officials do it during games [saying], 'I missed that call, I missed this call. We're sorry. We're sorry.' It's getting repetitive. They see it, they know what's going on. They know what's a foul. They know what's not a foul. It comes down from somewhere else how these games are going, I believe.

"Since I've been in this jersey we've always fought this battle," he continued. "Ever since I've been playing, ever since I've been in this jersey we've fought this battle. Maybe the league has teams they like so they can give them the benefit of the doubt. We're the little brother of the league. We're definitely the little brother of the league."

Nate McMillan agreed, saying that it's “ridiculous that [George] plays 39 minutes and he shoots one free throw.

The NBA released a statement on Wednesday, announcing a $15,000 fine assessed to both George and McMillan for “for public criticism of officiating.”

Later Wednesday night, Pacers big man Myles Turner agreed with both his coach and captain on Twitter.

He later posted and deleted a tweet insinuating even Pacers opponents notice the bad calls.

This seems like a stretch

Of Indiana’s 81 field goal attempts against Chicago, only 16 were layups, excluding alley-oops and tip-ins. None of Indiana’s turnovers were forced in the paint. With a few exceptions on plays that could have gone either way, the refs called the game straight.

You could argue George was grabbed before scoring on this critical possession:

And you could argue that C.J. Miles got bumped by Nikola Mirotic on this play:

But neither call looks like a foul to us, and we didn’t find a larger trend of missed calls.

It is true that the Pacers don’t shoot a lot of free throws. Indiana has shot 17 or fewer free throws in a game 12 times, including two games where the team shot in single digits.

But there’s another explanation for that. The Pacers average just 24.5 attempts in the restricted area per game, the fourth-fewest in the NBA. Conversely, Indiana averages the fourth-most attempts in the paint outside the restricted area (14.1) and shoots more mid-range jumpers (24.3) than 27 other NBA teams.

It’s much harder to get fouled when you’re not attacking the rim.

This is an ongoing problem in Indiana

If there’s something to take away from George’s comments, it’s this: Since 2011, the Pacers have shot fewer free throws almost every year, a trend likely related to the team’s major roster shakeup.

It was just the 2011-12 season that Indiana ranked third in the NBA in attempts at the line (26.1). But that roster featured bruisers (David West, Tyler Hansbrough), an All-Star-level Roy Hibbert, and young slashers (George and Lance Stephenson).

The current Pacers roster is built to get up and down in transition with a semi-smallball lineup, but that hasn’t worked much either.

Pacers Free Throw Attempts Since 2011

Year FTA/game NBA Ranking Win-Loss Record
Year FTA/game NBA Ranking Win-Loss Record
2011-12 26.1 3 42-24
2012-13 23.6 8 49-32
2013-14 23.3 T-15 56-26
2014-15 22.2 18 38-44
2015-16 22.8 17 45-37
2016-17 22.4 T-21 15-17

The team’s downward trend in free throw attempts runs parallel with George’s preference not to attack the rim. PG13 attempts only 3.2 field goals in the restricted area per game, fewer than half that of his likely All-Star teammates Giannis Antetokounmpo (8.4) and LeBron James (7.3).

The only other possible All-Star forward attempting fewer shots in the restricted area than George is Carmelo Anthony (3.0).

So while he does have a point — the Pacers are technically getting fewer foul calls than 21 other NBA teams — Paul George could stand to attack the rack more often to force the issue.

Or, maybe it could actually be a conspiracy. In that case, Paul’s out of luck.