Udonis Haslem and Dexter Pittman: How Suspensions Will Impact Heat in Game 6

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12:  Udonis Haslem #40 (R) and Eddie House #55 of the Miami Heat walk on court against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

After two flagrant fouls that appeared to be both intentional and retaliatory in nature, the NBA suspended the Miami Heat's Udonis Haslem and Dexter Pittman in a stiff punishment that could significantly impact Game 6 against the Indiana Pacers (via ESPN's Brian Windhorst):

Haslem was suspended by NBA executive vice president Stu Jackson for Thursday's Game 6 and Pittman was suspended for three games. Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough, who also committed a flagrant foul on Heat star Dwyane Wade, had his foul upgraded to a flagrant foul 2 from a flagrant 1, but he avoided suspension.

While Pittman's more extensive suspension won't worry too many Heat fans, Haslem's is another story.

Though he'll only miss one game, it's a game that singularly determines whether the series will come down to a winner-take-all Game 7. It also happens to be in Indiana.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 06:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat celebrates a play in the second half with Udonis Haslem #40 and Mario Chalmers #15 of the Miami Heat in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2012 at
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Pittman hasn't played more than seven minutes for the duration of the postseason, but Haslem has been a prominent piece of the Heat's short-handed interior rotation—especially over the last two games against the Pacers.

Though the 31-year-old power forward hasn't been exceptionally productive throughout the playoffs, he tallied a combined 24 points and 10 rebounds in Games 5 and 6.

With Chris Bosh sidelined by an abdominal strain for at least the remainder of this series, Haslem has become a vital contributor.

His emergence over the course of the last two contests coincides with Miami returning to dominance in a quintessentially up-and-down series.

More importantly, Haslem is the kind of guy who does all the little things championship rosters need someone to do. He's a tough defender and a reliable source of hustle. It goes without saying he'll be dearly missed against a Pacers' front line featuring the likes of Roy Hibbert and David West.

Still, it isn't exactly time to panic.

Indiana's Danny Granger is considered day-to-day after rolling his ankle in the first half of Game 5, and it's hard to imagine he'll be at full capacity even if he returns for Game 6.

Moreover, Erik Spoelstra's club is unquestionably on a roll. Sure, the Pacers will come out with renewed urgency—especially with team president Larry Bird describing his team's recent performance as "soft."

But every indication as of late is that the Heat are finding a stride that should withstand even Indiana's best effort.

Don't expect another lopsided blowout in Game 6, but if the Heat wind up losing, it will have a lot more to do with the Pacers overachieving than the loss of Haslem and Pittman.