To be honest, today’s embarrassing 115-83 score line was more of what I had expected from this Pacers-Heat series, which now has 2-3 Indiana on the brink of elimination. What I didn’t expect, however, was the dirty plays from the Heat players.
Yes, the Indiana Pacers play hard. Yes, they foul hard when they have to. Yes, they like to talk tough. But everything they do is within the rules of the game. Annoying, perhaps, but not criminal. This Pacers team might not be the most talented or the most aesthetically pleasing, but they play hard, as a team and don’t back down from anyone. They don’t flop and they never set out to hurt anyone.
What the Heat did today was indefensible. It’s sad reading all the “Indiana had it coming”, “Indiana started it” comments from Heat supporters who try to condone, or even applaud, this kind of despicable behavior. Hard fouls should be met with hard fouls, not dirty plays. No wonder Heat fans have such a bad reputation.
We’ve already had the D-Wade bulldozing of Darren Collison which was inexplicably let off with a flagrant 1, even after review. We’ve had Danny Granger getting in Lebron’s face for what he perceived to be cheap elbows. We’ve also seen Granger get in Wade’s face after Wade retaliated to a hard foul from Hibbert. In those cases Granger deservedly got technicals.
In this game, Wade drove down the lane and Hansbrough made a play for the ball and, being the brute that he is, followed through and caught Wade on the head. Watch it below. Even in slow motion, it just looked like a hard foul. Lebron complained, and the refs gave it a flagrant 1. I can’t argue that one because it was hard and the follow through was excessive. It was most probably deserved under the definition.
Then, Udonis Haslem retaliated in a big way by clubbing Hansbrough with both arms and sending him crashing to the floor. Didn’t even make a play for the ball. And in another reason why we have conspiracy theorists about NBA refs, they gave him a flagrant 1. Watch it below and explain how that does not fit the description of flagrant 2 (excessive and unnecessary).
If you thought that was bad enough, Dexter Pittman unleashed a vicious elbow against Lance Stephenson when the game was essentially already over for the Pacers. Any doubts that it may have been accidental were evaporated when Pittman smiled and winked at his teammates. The reason for this dirty hit, of course, was probably because Stephenson did the choke sign to Lebron a couple of games back. And the craziest part about the whole thing? Pittman got a flagrant 1.
Now, it will be VERY interesting to see if the fouls are upgraded and if suspensions are handed out. If the fouls stay as is, then you’re going to make a conspiracy theorist out of me. Hansbrough does not deserve a suspension for the foul on Wade. Haslem does deserve a suspension for the retaliation. Pittman deserves a multiple game suspension. Remember, Metta World Peace got 7 games for that elbow on James Harden. Hard to say Pittman’s elbow was not worse.
Unfortunately, unless the NBA decides to suspend Lebron and Wade, chances are the Pacers are not going to come back in this series. Even without Haslem and Pittman, the Heat should have enough to beat the Pacers once more, especially with Granger and West both day-to-day with injuries (ankle and knee). But it doesn’t mean the commission should let what happened today go unpunished.