Scott Foster, Tony Brothers, and James Capers will refereeing Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, and it’s causing Warriors fans to groan all across the internet. In fact, a couple of them predicted this crew coming in Game 2 a few days before the crew was announced.
NBA so predictable, I would bet everything I got on Scott Foster and Tony Brothers coming to Oracle for game 2 if we win today— Beke (@BekeGSW) June 2, 2017
Foster/Brothers tandem a game 2 lock https://t.co/2emGHurWFg— sam esfandiari (@samesfandiari) June 2, 2017
To be fair, those aren’t incredible predictions — Foster and Brothers often get paired together. The NBA doesn’t release game-by-game refereeing assignments, but it does announce the officials who have been selected to work the NBA Finals, announcing them on May 30.
The following has been released by the NBA: pic.twitter.com/0rDExfm8vn— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) May 30, 2017
But for Warriors fans, this seems strikingly like conspiracy, or at least seems like a league that is looking out for its own interests. Do a quick Twitter search for “Scott Foster” and you’ll see what I mean.
when in doubt put Scott Foster in there to slow down the warriors— Dan Johns ☕️ (@djohns) June 4, 2017
Scott Foster and Tony Brothers refing tonight. NBA had to make sure Cavs get a W lol.— Kung-Fu Hammy (@hammborghini) June 4, 2017
The ref assignment shouldn't matter but the fact NBA assigned crew GSW specifically hates and who favors road team after G1 blow out— sam esfandiari (@samesfandiari) June 4, 2017
There was even a post one year ago on the r/Warriors subreddit titled “The Warriors have a Scott Foster problem.”
For the NBA, the best-case scenario would be a close series, meaning it would love for the Cavaliers to win Game 2 on the road on Sunday. In the 2015 postseason, Foster officiated 13 games, with the road team winning 12 of them.
That’s a home team winning percentage of 7.7 percent, and it included a two-point Warriors loss in Game 2 of those Finals.
Warriors fans have other complaints. The Los Angeles Times, in a poll that surveyed “nearly three dozens head coaches, players and assistants,” called Foster the worst referee in the league. His 24 votes were far and away the most. Likewise, Foster was the official who ejected two Warriors in last year’s postseason — Shaun Livingston in Game 4 of the semifinals, and Stephen Curry in Game 6 of the Finals (after fouling out).
There’s more to this story, of course.
Foster is slightly more favorable to road teams throughout his time officiating in the postseason, but the 2015 postseason was a severe outlier. After all, Foster was also responsible for officiating the Warriors’ Game 6 win on the road for their first title during the 2015 Finals. In his past 10 seasons, home teams have a winning percentage better than 60 percent in seven of them.
Likewise, while Foster did receive criticism for his Livingston ejection, the Curry one was probably deserved for throwing his mouthpiece and hitting someone sitting courtside.
The NBA obviously has had referee scandals in the past, and nobody is actually suggesting that’s what’s happening on Sunday. No, Foster isn’t the league’s anti-Warriors hitman that they sic upon this team when they’re getting too good. Instead, Golden State fans are suggesting that the NBA might be playing the percentages and choosing a referee that slightly favors road teams right when a road team win would be great for the league.
The Warriors might be too good for that to matter. But if the game comes down to a couple close calls late, don’t be surprise if the Warriors say something.