Refs didn't penalize the Heat when players on their sideline kept standing on the court

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The Celtics are responsible for their lackluster showing in the most important game at TD Garden in years. But the men in stripes seemed intent on forcing a Game 7 as well.

The officiating was overbearing and horrible in Boston’s deflating 111-103 loss to the Heat Friday, with both teams combining for 56 free throw attempts. Though the Celtics went to the line six more times, there were on the receiving end of some of cheap and downright missed calls.

None were more egregious than Kyle Lowry, and other Heat players on the sideline, being allowed to step onto the court without penalty.

This happened a couple of times in the second half, most notably when Al Horford attempted a corner 3-pointer with 1:28 remaining. Lowry, who failed out of the game, reached in on the play.

Nothing was called.

Heat players were also standing on the court when Marcus Smart caught the ball in the corner.

The Celtics were trailing 104-99 when Horford attempted his late three, so the game may have already been decided. That was after Jaylen Brown missed two crucial free throws with game tied up at 99 with 2:18 left.

It looked like the Celtics tied up the contest at 89 with 8:57 in the fourth, but Jayson Tatum’s layup was waved off, because he brushed past P.J. Tucker on his way to the hoop. It was an inexplicable offensive foul.

Jimmy Butler was immediately called for an offensive foul on the other end, but makeup calls are never satisfying consolations.

Let’s hope the players, and not the zebras, play the biggest role in deciding Game 7.