The Milwaukee Bucks opened their season reboot with a 119-112 win over the Boston Celtics, but a pair of Celtics players had some gripes about the officiating around Giannis Antetokounmpo after the game.
The Greek Freak was at the center of multiple controversial calls as the Bucks closed out the game, starting with a questionable non-call on what looked like goaltending midway through the fourth quarter. A few minutes later, the real drama began.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s close calls
The first big swing came with two-and-a-half minutes remaining when Antetokounmpo tried to move through a screen set by Boston center Daniel Theis. The result of the play was what looked liked hard contact to an ... unfortunate area on Theis’ body.
Refs didn't call a foul on Giannis on this play, would have been his sixth pic.twitter.com/KJ3CzvEgbH— gifdsports (@gifdsports) August 1, 2020
That play led to a whistle from officials, who determined Antetokounmpo had not committed a “hostile act.” In doing so, they also told Celtics coach Brad Stevens they could not call a personal foul, which was not insignificant as Antetokounmpo was on his fifth foul. One more would have removed the reigning MVP from the game.
After the game, crew chief James Capers said he saw no illegal or hostile contact on the play.
NBA Referee James Capers Comments to a pool reporter after tonight's Celtics-Bucks game: pic.twitter.com/RGS6PF0o4V— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) August 1, 2020
A few plays later, Antetokounmpo found himself with the ball on offense and did his usual thing, driving from the top of the perimeter for a pretty lay-up. However, as Antetokounmpo took flight, Celtics guard Marcus Smart took position between him and the basket, leading to the classic block or charge conundrum.
Initially called a charge, the call was later overturned to a blocking foul as Antetokounmpo again avoided a foul-out. The subsequent and-1 free throw gave the Bucks a 113-110 lead with 1:28 remaining in the game.
Another angle of the play showed how close the call was. Smart had his left foot initially in the restricted area when Antetokounmpo put his shot up, then pulled it out as contact occurred.
Giannis again almost fouls out. Refs reviewing. Looks like a blocking foul. pic.twitter.com/HDMlnptEM7— Mich M. (@MirazNBA) August 1, 2020
The Bucks coasted to a win from there, with Antetokounmpo finishing with an MVP-esque 36 points on 14-of-20 shooting, 15 rebounds and 7 assists. Obviously, a lot more went into that than some favorable calls, especially when Antetokounmpo’s fifth foul seemed to be of the phantom variety.
Smart was still wasn’t happy about the call, and threw out an interesting theory after the game.
Marcus Smart on the charge being overturned: “The excuse was I was late on the charge. ... Quite frankly I think we all know what was about. Giannis (would have had) six fouls.”— Jay King (@ByJayKing) August 1, 2020
Another member of the Celtics went even further on his Instagram story:
Bold statements from some players who are all sharing the same hotel.
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