Heat vs. Pacers: Udonis Haslem and Dexter Pittman Suspended for Game 5

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IMay 23, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 29: Udonis Haslem #40 of the Miami Heat shoots a jump shot during a game against the Chicago Bulls at American Airlines Arena on January 29, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Miami Heat players Dexter Pittman and Udonis Haslem have been suspended for their flagrant fouls in Game 5 of their series with the Indiana Pacers. The league has suspended Pittman for three games and Haslem for one. 

ESPN's Brian Windhorst spread the word on Twitter.

The NBA has suspended Udonis Haslem for one game and Dexter Pittman for 3 games.

— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) May 23, 2012

Pittman's foul came with just 19.4 seconds remaining in Miami's Game 5 blowout win. Pittman slid across the lane and buried his forearm into the chin of Lance Stephenson.

Check out the foul, and it becomes clear why this suspension was mandatory. 

This series has been filled with increasingly rough play. Haslem levied his hard foul on Tyler Hansbrough not long after Hansbrough bloodied Dwyane Wade with a blow to the head.

Here is what earned Haslem the suspension. 

Pittman clearly deserved the more severe punishment for his blatant headhunting of the Pacers' Stephenson. 

Haslem's foul, while intentional, at least was attached to an attempt to make a play on the ball; Pittman's was not.

With the game in hand, Pittman was not concerned in any way about making a play on the ball. He saw Stephenson charging into the lane and lined him up for a cheap shot. 

After the foul, Pittman could even be caught winking. 

This foul was likely in retaliation for Stephenson making the universal choke sign to LeBron James in Game 3, but that does not make this OK. 

There is no room for this kind of behavior in sports, and the action is going to cost Pittman three games. Pittman's absence will be felt with Haslem on the pine for next game, as the Heat's frontcourt will be missing the suspended pair and forward Chris Bosh.

However, in the following two games, it will not be a major detriment. 

Pittman has appeared in just two games during the playoffs and is averaging 3.5 minutes in those games. 

Hopefully, the league will announce a monetary fine to go along with the suspension. Given Pittman's lack of on-court impact, the suspension is not a sufficient punishment. 

A player can't be free to headhunt like this without facing severe consequences.