The NBA has handed out a $25k fine to Pacers' forward Paul George for his public criticism of officials after Indiana's 102-90 game four loss to the Miami Heat.
George was upset after the defeat and particularly singled out the disparity in free throw shooting between the two teams and felt that the officials had favoured the hometown Miami Heat.
The two-time defending champion Heat are in a commanding position in the Eastern Conference Finals and the two consecutive home wins have propelled them to a 3-1 series lead over the Pacers as the two teams head back to Indiana.
Miami are now 7-0 at American Airlines Arena in the post season and George's recognition of suspected favouritism has shone the spotlight on the Heat's dominance on their own court.
During the post game press conference, George said to the media: "You can’t tell me we don’t attack the basket as much as they attack the basket, you can’t tell me we’re not aggressive. Maybe we’re too aggressive. We’re just as aggressive as they are attacking the basket and making plays at the rim. Maybe this was just home cooking.”
George gazed over the stat sheets provided and failed to understand how his team had lost the ball game, the Pacers had controlled the glass and shot 50% from the floor but still suffered a defeat at the hands of the Heat.
George then pointed out where he felt they may have lost: "“It’s just demoralizing when a game is lopsided. I’m sorry to say, but that was the case, again. How rare is it we shoot 50 percent, turn the ball over around 13 or so times, out-rebound a team and lose a ball game? … They made 30 free throws. That put them over the edge."
The small forward has received a hefty fine from the league and a warning has been issued over players criticising the officials.
It's playoff season after all, tensions and emotions run high and coming off a tough loss it can be difficult for a player to be reflective in a positive manner, so perhaps George deserves some slack in this case.
Either way, George must shake off anything that redirects his focus from game five in Indiana, trailing 3-1 in the Series the Pacers are now fighting off elimination which would see their season end one step short of the Finals again.