Whistle while you work: If the NBA restart has a theme song so far, it would be the high-pitched sound of foul calls.

For the season, teams have combined for a shade more than 41 fouls per game, according to basketball-reference.com. Yet, through 19 restart games, teams were getting called for 52 fouls per game, according to the Athletic.

For their part, the Clippers were called for 30 fouls in their bubble opener against the Lakers and 28 in their next game against the New Orleans Pelicans.

That number dropped significantly in Game 3, Tuesday’s 117-115 loss to the Phoenix Suns, but Coach Doc Rivers didn’t consider that a good thing, necessarily: “We didn’t touch anybody last game so we wouldn’t have actually known if there were fouls called or not,” he joked, via Zoom, before Thursday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks at HP Field House at Walt Disney World Resort.

Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle’s squad came out fouling too, committing 36 of them in their restart opener against the Houston Rockets. But in the two games after that, the Mavericks were whistled for only 22 and 21 fouls, respectively.

So what’s up with all the fouls?

Carlisle considered a few theories before his team took the floor Thursday, including the notion that guys simply were raring to go.

“I heard a couple of different theories about it,” the 18th-year head coach said. “One could be that players are just so excited to get back, there’s a higher level of aggression defensively.

“Or,” he ventured, “the fact that there are no partisan fans in the stands may have some influence on the number of fouls being called.”

It might be something else entirely, he said, noting a longer-term trend. “Look, let’s be honest,” he said. “Offenses keep getting more and more aggressive, so the more aggressive offenses are, the more often the whistle’s gonna blow, particularly for defensive fouls.”

Yeah, that might be it, Rivers said.

“Listen, there have been, watching the games, a lot of fouls called,” said the 21st-year head coach. “My guess is it’s because guys are fouling. So we all have to clean up our play would be what I would say.”


In his first few bubble games, JaMychal Green appears playoff ready, looking a lot like the player who effectively stretched the Golden State defense in the Clippers’ tantalizing first-round Western Conference playoff series last season.

Green – who these days doesn’t much resemble the player who made only 3 of 17 3-point attempts in four seasons at Alabama – went 12 for 23 from behind the arc in that six-game series, which earned him a specific assignment upon his return to the Clippers this season: Let it fly.

In his three seeding games in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Green was 7 for 13 (53.8%) from 3-point range.

“He’s such a dimension,” Rivers said recently. “When we have him on the floor, you literally have five shooters on the floor at the same time. We like getting him in and out at different points, especially when the other team goes with a big 5 who you know is not going to come away from the basket, and you bring JaMychal on the floor to pop and space the floor, and it works out pretty well for us.”

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