The Eastern Conference semifinal match up between the Miami Heat and the Indian Pacers has been chippy to say the least.
Indiana’s Danny Granger has been in the face of both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in each of the first five games. In my opinion, Granger’s passionate/over aggressive play set up the tone for Wednesday’s ruled suspensions of Udonis Haslem and Dexter Pittman.
Tuesday’s game 5 that Miami won 115-83, seen what I’ll call the climax of the irritation between the opponents when Miami’s Haslem and Pittman aimed to take out Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough after he fouled Wade awfully hard across the face.
Wade went up for a layup and was met with Hansbrough’s arms across his grill. A matter of minutes later, Haslem did the same to “Psycho T” but in a more deliberate and violent way. Hansbrough’s foul was ruled as a flagrant 1 (changed to a flagrant 2) while Haslem’s take out move was ruled immediately ruled as a flagrant 2. The referees said Hansbrough’s foul looked like a play on the ball while Haslem’s was out of revenge.
While Granger has been acting out of the court — he earned three technical fouls in the first three games — Lance Stephenson decided it was cool for players who couldn’t carry James’ gym bag to insult the 2012 MVP by making a choking gesture to him.
Pittman, who doesn’t get much playing time at all, threw a massive elbow into Stephenson’s throat as he was running in the lane.
After the dust settled, the NBA ruled Pittman is suspended for three games, Haslem one and Hansbrough is suspension free.
Pushing all bias aside, I understand how Hansbrough’s foul can be called a play on the ball and the changing from flagrant 1 to 2 is acceptable. When I watched the replay for the fifth time, I saw his eyes were on the ball. He wasn’t purposely trying to smash Wade’s face in, but make a hard foul.
Remember the NBA in the 1990′s? Every foul was like the one Hansbrough had on Wade.
On the other hand, Pittman’s throat shot and Haslem’s retaliation are not hard fouls but premeditated acts of revenge. Honestly, I’m not made at either one for their blatant attacks, disappointed, but not angry.
The Pacers had it coming to them because of the way they have acted. There is a difference between playing hard and disrespecting your opponent. The way Granger has got into their faces, Indiana’s over celebrations for their two wins and Stephenson’s choking gestures could get them jumped in some cities.
But, this is the NBA and a brawl is highly opposed, even by me. Instead, the Pacers baked their cake and received super hard fouls as a result of bad ingredients.
Pittman’s suspension doesn’t mean much at all because he hardly ever plays. The only reason he is on an NBA roster is because at 6’11 and 285 pounds, he is an extremely large body to clog up the lane. On the other hand, his season averages of 8.6 minutes, three points and two rebounds per game show he isn’t a great player.
His flying elbow was sort of like the mob throwing one of their low ball thugs into the frying pan to see what they can cook up. Readers can hate on Pittman all they want, but the man has received the most media coverage he has ever received. It was a dirty play but some players make a name for themselves in this matter. Even if he doesn’t make a name for himself, he is getting his 15 minutes of fame and probably a free dinner from James.
Haslem has said he didn’t try to hurt Hansbrough, but it does look different. Again, the Pacers have attacked Miami in a few different ways, did they not expect the Heat to react in some kind of way. Haslem is a big guy who is known as a tough player who does all the little things to help his team out even if that means sending a message with a mouth shot to Hansbrough.
If readers haven’t noticed, the Pacers didn’t much to say at the post game five interview and haven’t been on Twitter either. In other words, Pittman and Haslem did their jobs.
Haslem’s suspension affects game six because he is the second best low post player on the team after Chris Bosh. With Bosh missing the series with an abdominal strain, the Heat need him to be a defensive presence, grab rebounds and hit a 15-foot jumper when need be.
His absence could be the difference from a win to a loss if the rest of the Heat don’t have a superb game. However, Haslem’s actions in game five were needed to show Indiana that they are not going to be pushed around.