The Extender is coming. He’s not a character from one of George RR Martin’s “Game of Thrones“ novels, or a terrifying WWE heel. He’s just an NBA referee. The Dallas Mavericks are on the verge of postseason elimination and down 3-1 in the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors. But, the Mavs have a glimmer of hope because the NBA sent in Scott “The Extender” Foster to give them a boost over the Warriors in Game 5 tonight in San Francisco.
The Warriors jumped out to a 3-0 series lead, but missed out on sweeping the Mavs in Game 4 on Tuesday night.
The Warriors opened as a -7.5 favorite over the Mavs in Game 5. The line moved a half-point this morning to -7 when the NBA released their referee assignments with Foster as the crew chief.
Referee assignments, blowouts galore
The NBA releases officiating assignments at 9 am ET on the morning of scheduled games. Of course, we began refreshing the NBA’s Referee Assignment webpage starting at 8:59 am. It’s a habit we developed because you should always double-check to see who’s officiating a game before you place a wager on it.
It wasn’t surprising to see Foster listed as the crew chief for Game 5 of the Western Conference finals between the Warriors and Mavs. The rest of Foster’s Game 5 crew includes referee John Goble, umpire Curtis Blair, and Bill Kennedy as the alternate.
If you think there has been a slew of blowouts in the 2022 NBA playoffs, you’re correct. With 22 official blowouts, this year’s playoffs have the second-most in NBA history. Some of these blowouts begin as early as the first half, which means there are a lot of unwatchable games.
This is what happens when teams decide to live and die by the 3-point shot. Trey-happy teams like the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, and Golden State Warriors will either sink or swim depending on their success rate from beyond the 3-point arc. When these long-range bombing teams are on fire, they generate an abundance of additional scoring. When those teams shoot a lot of 3-pointers and miss, it results in an ugly blowout.
When games are blowouts, viewers will change the channel, especially in the playoffs. That’s not good for advertisers who shelled out big bucks for fourth-quarter ads. Let’s not forget that the NBA playoffs are a TV show. With that said, the NBA assigned Foster to make sure the Western Conference finals last for at least one more game. The Warriors are well aware “The Extender” has entered the Chase Center in downtown San Francisco, and they’ll adjust accordingly.
NBA henchmen: The Extender
The NBA has always had a henchman or company man among their pool of postseason officials. In the 1980s it was referee Ed T. Rush. In the 1990s it was Hue Hollins. In the 2000s it was the infamous Joey Crawford. These days, the NBA’s henchman is Foster. Gamblers took note of the kind of effect that Foster has when he’s officiating playoff games. That’s how Foster got “The Extender” nickname.
When Foster referees an NBA playoff game, the team trailing in the series has a 22-5 record. This isn’t an NBA conspiracy theory that’s getting up votes on Reddit or retweets by degens on Twitter. This 22-5 record doesn’t cater to the tin-foil-hat-wearing forum denizens, but it’s just the raw data.
The Extender tipped the scales twice in the last fortnight. Foster officiated Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals with the Milwaukee Bucks up 3-2 against the Boston Celtics. And yes, the Celtics won a road game to extend the series with a Game 7.
Foster also officiated Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals when the Celtics found themselves down 2-1 against the Miami Heat. And yes, the Celtics won Game 4 to even the series.
The NBA assigned Foster to officiate Game 5 of the Mavs/Warriors in San Francisco. This is great news for Mavs, but a potential harbinger of doom for the Warriors. Head coach Steve Kerr shrugged his shoulders and said it’s just another obstacle for the Warriors to overcome if they want to punch their ticket to the 2022 NBA Finals.
Everyone hates Scott Foster … except the NBA suits
NBA players loathe Foster. Head coaches are infuriated by him. Fans lose their minds when Foster’s crew takes over the flow of the game with unnecessary whistles. Yet, savvy bettors are aware of Foster and his henchman reputation, especially when “The Extender” shows up to ref a playoff game.
Chris Paul, a veteran point guard with the Phoenix Suns, has a long-standing beef with Foster that dates back to his days with the LA Clippers. Oddsmakers keep a keen eye on referee assignments, especially if Foster officiates one of Paul’s games. Lines will move a couple of points because they know Foster will do everything in his power to stick it to Paul.
This postseason, Foster officiated Game 2 of the first round between the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans won and Paul lost his 14th consecutive playoff game when Foster is an official. It’s hard to ignore an 0-14 clip.
Foster didn’t have to screw over Paul and the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals; the Suns did that themselves with a second-round exit against the Mavs. Yet, fans let out a sigh of relief every morning when they didn’t see Foster’s name on the officiating list during the rest of the first and second rounds. But now, Foster is the Warriors’ problem.
This morning as the misty fog rolls into San Francisco Bay, fans know there’s potential impending disaster looming for the Warriors. The Extender has arrived.
Check out more coverage of the 2022 NBA playoffs.