Referees have so far garnered a lot of attention in Western Conference Finals, as both the Mavericks and Warriors have expressed their displeasure with the call.
Perhaps in response—or maybe just because it’s a potentially clinching game—the NBA is sending three of its most-served referees to what they call Game 4 of the Series, which Golden State could sweep.
Zach Zarba will lead the three-man stewardship team on Tuesday night and will be joined by David Guthrie and Sean Wright. Tom Washington is optional.
Officials were a part of the story in Game 2, with TNT’s Charles Barkley calling the first half of that game “the worst half I’ve ever seen in NBA history”.
Then, in Game 3, crew chief Mark Davis was in the news for two separate incidents, the first being to ask Mavericks reserve Theo Pinson to change his shirt, which Pinson refused.
Then, Davis initially made a charge over Luca Donnick on Andrew Wiggins’ monster dunk, which was reversed after a challenge from the Warriors. Golden State was clearly stunned, calling it a foul in the first place, Wiggins told the referee “tried to take it away from me” and coach Steve Kerr admitted he was surprised.
The Warriors win the challenge and Drummond shouts “You must be stopped, Mark!” in Mark Davis
— Dalton Johnson (@DaltonJ_Johnson) 23 May 2022
Davis’ name was also mentioned by Steph Curry after the game when he said, “And we got to see 800 replays because of the challenge, so appreciate you, Mark.” [Davis], that was nice.”
And while Curry’s message was kind, the NBA should certainly think it’s not a good thing to mention its officials in postgame interviews.
This is where, one could argue, the league is sending its most trusted officials to call the game. According to NBA Stuffer, a website that tracks NBA referee statistics, Zerba has featured in 13 playoff games as of Tuesday night, including eight as crew chief. Wright has officiated in 12 matches and Guthrie has officiated in 11 matches.
In terms of calling out the Warriors specifically, Zerba previously worked in Game 5 of the Memphis series and Guthrie called Game 3 of the Denver series this year (Wright did not work in a Warriors game entering Tuesday night). is). Both Guthrie and Zerba also featured in the Warriors’ final appearance in the NBA Finals, with Zerba in Game 4 in 2019 and Guthrie in both Game 3 and Game 6.
While it is never known how a game based solely on substitute crew will play out, there is one thing to note that Warriors fans may find interesting: in all five games, Zarba won the crew during the 2021–22 playoffs. Has acted as the head of the team, won the road team.