Game 5 between the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat got a little more physical than the previous games in the series. We've seen both Danny Granger and LeBron James get into it through the first four games. But Game 5 was different.
The action started to get out of hand in the second quarter after Indiana forward Tyler Hansbrough fouled Miami guard Dwyane Wade hard. Hansbrough was clearly making a play on the ball but followed through a bit too much and slapped Wade across the face, drawing blood. Wade was not seriously injured and finished the game without issue. Hansbrough was given a flagrant foul.
Less than a minute later, Heat center Udonis Haslem retaliated with a two-handed attack to Hansbrough's face, knocking him to the floor without making an attempt on the ball. Haslem received a flagrant as well.
The worst play of the game came after the score was already easily in Miami's favor. With less than a minute left in the blowout, Heat center Dexter Pittman put his forearm into Pacers guard Lance Stephenson's neck.
The NBA of course wants their games to be exciting but not dangerous. With that in mind, the NBA announced a three game suspension for Pittman and a one game ban for Haslem. Noticeably left off that list was Hansbrough.
This was the correct call. In determining discipline for hard fouls, the intent is more important than the result.
As Wade and Hansbrough went up together in the second quarter, the Pacer forward directed his efforts towards the ball—not his opponent. His intent wasn't to hurt or intimidate but to make a basketball play.
Haslem and Pittman had no regard for their opponents' safety. It is clear on replays that Haslem's hands come down on Hansbrough before he even releases the shot. Pittman's play was just disgusting.
It's the playoffs—it is going to get physical. But basketball is not hockey. You can't fight or make a big hit on the other guy to gain momentum or establish your authority. Hansbrough wasn't attempting to do either with his foul. It's hard to say the same about Haslem.
The shorthanded Heat will try and close out the series tonight in Indianapolis without two of its role players. Pittman hasn't contributed much so far in these playoffs, but Haslem had provided much needed height for Miami. His 5.4 rebounds per game is third most on the team through 10 playoff games. His absence is a key storyline to watch in tonight's game.
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