The Toronto Raptors won a thrilling Game 4 against the Cavaliers last night to tie the Eastern Conference Finals at 2-2 before heading back to Cleveland Wednesday night, and they owe their home crowd a lot. The Raptors managed to build a 57-41 lead at halftime despite not attempting a single free throw in the first two quarters, and would go on not to attempt one until DeMar DeRozan drew a foul at 6:13 in the third quarter. The fans were very much aware of the disparity in calls and let the referees know it.
The refs were letting both teams play, but Cleveland seemed to be getting the lion's share of the calls in the first half—maybe because LeBron James has been particularly vocal about fouls and/or flagrant fouls that he feels don't go his way—so much so that when the Cavs were finally whistled with about nine minutes in the second quarter, the Toronto crowd let out a resounding Bronx cheer. Unfortunately, as we've already covered, it was not a shooting foul. It was particularly hilarious because on the previous possession, Cavs scamp Matthew Dellavedova drew an offensive foul simply by standing still, holding up his hands, and slapping James Johnson in the chest, creating the only real contact between the two. When the Raptors got the ball back, Dellavedova hip-checked Terrence Ross for the first Cleveland foul.
Toronto maintained a fairly sizable lead for most of the third quarter, but then Cleveland put together a run late in the third and eventually took the lead in the fourth. The teams then swapped the lead virtually every trip up the floor, as the Cavaliers made 11 straight shots and the Raptors somehow kept up. That might have made things a bit tense for one fan, who wound up getting ejected because he was giving too much of the business to the referees. In the video above, you can see he seems pretty close to the scorer's table, so he certainly could get into the ear of a ref or two. We don't know what he said, but no one looks particularly upset that he was escorted off the court.
Still, even if this guy was indeed a loud enough jerk to deserve his ejection, let's give credit where it's due—he was, in his furious turnt-up mania, basically the Toronto crowd, distilled into one person. The place was jacked up all night and definitely made it clear that they felt they were getting jobbed by the referees. They weren't getting jobbed, obviously—no more so than any other team gets jobbed by the fallibility of human referees—but when a lot of people get vocal it can drive a narrative, especially when stakes like We Must Get LeBron into the Finals exist in the minds of conspiracy theorists and partisans. They were even yelling "bullshit, bullshit" after that obvious Bismack Biyombo foul on LeBron.
It also didn't help that about an hour before tipoff, the NBA announced that they would not be suspending Draymond Green for a kick to the nuts that looked much worse than Dahntay Jones' nut shot on Biyombo. Not only did the Toronto crowd think the Cavs were getting all the calls, but look what's standing in their way if they actually knock them off: the reigning champs, who can kick people in the nuts with impunity. You'd yell, too.