After only one game of the Western Conference Semifinals, the referees have taken center stage in the Warriors vs. Rockets NBA playoffs series.
And a referee that has plenty of history with both teams will be at Oracle Arena on Tuesday night for Game 2. Scott Foster, often criticized by the Warriors and Rockets, will be joined by Ed Malloy and Eric Lewis.
Game 2 marks Foster's first Rockets game since February, in which Rockets star James Harden was highly critical of him.
As the Rockets blew a 19-point lead to the Lakers, Foster issued 12 fouls -- personal or technical -- against Houston, according to ESPN Stats and Information. Seven fouls were called against the Rockets in the fourth quarter, and they did not shoot a free throw in the final 20 minutes of the game.
"It's personal. For sure. I don't think he should be able to even officiate our games anymore, honestly," Harden said after the loss. Last season's NBA MVP also called Foster "just rude and arrogant" after he fouled out in the loss.
While Rockets fans might feel this is the NBA reacting to the team being critical of the officiating in Game 1, Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix points out that referee assignments are made before a series begins.
For the referee conspiracy theorists: Referee game assignments are made before a series starts. So, no, Scott Foster was not assigned in the aftermath of the Game 1 drama.— Chris Mannix (@SIChrisMannix) April 30, 2019
Let's also not act like Foster and the Warriors are best friends, either. They too have their own storied history.
Earlier in the season, Foster ejected Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins ... from the bench, while he wasn't even active.
Warriors guard Shaun Livingston was ejected for the first time in his NBA career nearly three years ago in the playoffs by none other than Foster.
Those are just two examples of a long-running feud between Foster and the Warriors. The chatter has turned to whistles, but our eyes must stay peeled to what's turning into a budding rivalry between two Western Conference powerhouses.