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Cavaliers’ J.B. Bickerstaff fined $15,000 for public criticism of officiating after loss to 76ers

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Cleveland Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff was hit with a $15,000 fine for publicly criticizing the officials after Cleveland’s 112-108 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night, the NBA announced Monday. Bickerstaff was unhappy with the amount of calls given to Sixers stars Joel Embiid (20 free throw attempts) and James Harden (12 attempts) in the contest, and he let his feelings be known. 

“We deserved to win that game. That game was taken from us,” Bickerstaff said. “We did a great job defensively, making their two best players have a difficult time from the field. But one thing you can’t defend is the free throw line. That’s absurd. That’s absurd. Our guys deserve way better than what they got tonight.

“It was the rhythm of the night. They’re great players, right? They understand how to play through the rules, and they know how to manipulate the rules. This is no knock or disrespect on those guys. But the game has to be consistent on both ends of the floor. There’s contact on one end, it’s a foul. Contact on the other end, it’s got to be a foul. Tonight, we were searching for that consistency and I don’t think we ever found it.”

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You can hear Bickerstaff’s full comments below: 

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Once those comments were made, it was pretty obvious that a fine would be coming, as coaches simply aren’t allowed to publicly blast officials like Bickerstaff did. Bickerstaff’s claim that the Cavs deserved to win the game is questionable, at best. The Cavs shot 31 free throws in the game, compared to 42 for Philadelphia, so it’s not like they weren’t getting any calls of their own. 

Plus, Embiid was the most physically dominant player on the floor on Sunday night, as he often is, and the Cavs clearly had no answer for him, outside of hacking him and sending him to the line, time and again. Perhaps if Bickerstaff had come up with a better game plan to limit the MVP candidate, his team wouldn’t have been forced to commit so many fouls. 


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