Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the No. 2 seed Celtics and No. 3 seed 76ers is coming with added drama.
In the lead-up to the decisive matchup, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the NBA's officiating game report from Game 6 revealed a significant disparity of officiating errors that disadvantaged the 76ers. The official tally — which includes calls and non-calls — was 13 errors disadvantaging the Sixers to four disadvantaging the Celtics.
As reported by Wojnarowski, these reports are shared with each team but became public knowledge through sources familiar with the situation, adding "an interesting dynamic" to the game.
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In Game 6, Boston outscored Philadelphia 24-13 in the final frame to extend the series with a nine-point win. Ahead of Game 7, 76ers head coach Doc Rivers did not hold back when asked about the impact of the officiating.
"A 13-4 disparity in a one-point or two-point game, is hard to recover from," Rivers said.
"When you saw the report we read and then saw the calls that were missed — the trip on James Harden down the stretch when he fell to the floor or the loose ball when they called the timeout and they didn't have (possession of) the ball, plus it was a foul on [Marcus] Smart on the play that would have been free throws."
I asked Doc Rivers about @wojespn report that officials in report for Game 6 missed or had bad calls with 13-4 disparity negatively affecting Sixers— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) May 14, 2023
“It’s disappointing. 13-4 is hard to recover from” pic.twitter.com/VREXyWDCDI
Rivers acknowledged that basketball — and its officiating — is a human game, adding that his team needs to play through such disparities, but he was clearly frustrated with the way things shook out for his team.
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After coming up short at home in Game 6, Rivers and the Sixers will meet the Celtics for one final time in a winner-takes-all Game 7 at TD Garden. Philadelphia has already won two road games in the series; winning a third will be no easy task.
22-plus years of history is on the line for the Sixers — the franchise's last trip to the Eastern Conference Finals came in 2001 and its last series win over its rival in Boston came in 1982.