Most people who have conspiracy theories wait until the event is over, and then fit what happened in that event into their own theory. This creates all kinds of selection/ confirmation bias issues, and really proves nothing. This post will also prove nothing.
The basic theory in this post is that the NBA wants certain outcomes in certain games, and the referees know this. Whether or not there is direct orders from the NBA to the refs is not necessarily important. The question is: do the refs call games to favor one side or the other in order to maximize interest and profits, for the NBA? I will argue that perhaps they do, and that they influence games through changing the way that they make some of the close calls.
History: 2011 NBA Finals
In the 2011 Finals, through the first five games of the series, the Dallas Mavericks shot more FT's than the Miami Heat, by a margin of 137-115. Miami's largest single game advantage in FTA up until that point was 24-21 in game 2. However in a deciding game 6, the Heat shot 33 FT's while the Mavs only shot 18 (including 2 FTA's with only 15 seconds left and an 11 point lead). While this does not prove that the refs were favoring Miami, I think it warrants suspicion. Even though Dallas won that game anyway, this does not disprove any bias in officiating. Biased refs won't be able to control the outcomes of a game or series. If my view is correct, they would only be able influence the likelihood of that happening. For example, they may have increased Miami's odds of winning 2011 game 6 from 65% to 75%, which would still leave a 25% chance of Dallas winning, which is what happened.
So far in this series, San Antonio is leading Miami in FTA 108-81. Miami has yet to have more FTA's than SA in a single game (game two they tied at 14 each). It will be interesting to see if Miami shoots substantially more free throws in game 6. For purposes of the my prediction, "substantially more" will mean an additional 50% more FTA.
What would this mean:
Potentially nothing. Also, if one team or the other runs away with the game, that would leave very little reason for the refs to try to influence the outcome of the game, and would make my prediction pointless (unless early FT's helped Miami run away with the game).
This is not to say that the NBA is favoring Miami in this series. It is to say that they probably want a 7 game series, for the drama and the extra revenue that comes from a game 7. The important thing to remember, is that my hypothesis is that they influence games, they don't guarantee one outcome or another.
I am not a diehard conspiracy theorist. I would actually be a little surprised if MIA shot substantially more FT's than SA in game 6. I don't really trust David Stern though, and think he lacks the moral conviction to do the right thing if he has the opportunity to further his own interests. Maybe the NBA is rigged, maybe it isn't. But if it is, expect Miami to get more calls as long as game 6 remains in doubt.