LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 17: Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts to a call and receives a technical foul during the second quarter against the LA Clippers in Game One of the Western Conference First Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 17, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Monday night’s Mavericks-Clippers game should have featured Kristaps Porzingis in a starring role, but the referees had other ideas.

Kristaps Porzingis was thwarted in his first-ever playoff game. Most New Yorkers would revel in his failures, but this was different.

Was it Kawhi Leonard’s defense or a Paul George dagger that sent Porzingis on a long walk to the locker room? No, it was everyone’s favorite stars—the referees.

First things first, Porzingis needs to be smarter. He already had one technical foul and should know to stay out of this scrum, but both technicals were softer than tissue paper.

This is a playoff game and the referees need to do a much better job at understanding the moment. “Letter of the law” be damned.

The first technical was even worse than the second. Porzingis pumped his fist on a questionable foul call and was immediately hit with a technical. It was a clear “give back” call after George was hit with a similar tech earlier in the game.

The only people in the world who feel like Porzingis should have been ejected are the guys wearing striped shirts. Even LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki can agree on this one.

No one tunes into a playoff game to see refs. There are no fans in the stands to drown out the noise so the refs all have rabbit ears in these bubble games. The NBA needs to tell the refs to stop being so sensitive and allow the players to show some emotion. Again, no one wants the refs to become the story of a playoff game.

This game had all the feel of an instant classic before the ejection. Porzingis and Luka Doncic were going shot for shot with Leonard and George. It was an upstart young squad trying to upset a bonafide championship contender in Game 1. A win for Dallas would have flipped this series on its head.

Instead, everyone is talking about refs.

On a day where concerning reports about the NBA’s television numbers came out, this wasn’t a good look for the league.

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