Dirtiest Plays from the NBA Postseason
This season's NBA playoffs have been a decidedly testy affair, with elbows getting tossed left and right, shoving matches becoming the norm and referees being forced to take over games by issuing technical fouls.
Zach Randolph and Blake Griffin were at each other's throats for the better part of their six games together, the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat might have a body count if their series evolves into a seven-game affair and players seem to become enraged at the slightest bump.
We're just a few games into the second round, which seems poised to be a long one, but there have already been a good number of dirty plays to rank.
Honorable Mention: Reggie Evans Won't Walk Around
It's hard to put together a list of dirty plays without once mentioning Reggie Evans, so I decided to give him a bit of a shout-out.
While this isn't really a play, it is a hilarious classic from Evans, who seems to do whatever he can to get under the skin of his opponents.
I can't imagine how annoyed Carlos Boozer was after having Evans' beard scratching against him for seven straight matchups.
Evans gives a bit of a flop after Boozer fouls him (it was a foul, Evans just exaggerated the contact) but decides that he's not taking the long way around Chicago's mini-huddle on his way to the free-throw line.
After all, he's in the middle of a game—there's no reason to waste all that energy circumventing all three Bulls players.
So Reggie just forces his way through, a path of far less resistance.
10. Kenneth Faried the Hitman
As far as dirty plays go, this one is definitely showing up on the scale, but it's nowhere near dirty enough to warrant the reaction that Mark Jackson gave after the game.
Jackson, in a horrified realization that the Denver Nuggets were doing their best to rattle his star player, called them out for "sending hitmen" at Stephen Curry.
This was about the worst the Nuggets sent at Curry. Twice, Kenneth Faried sticks out his arm as Curry runs past and gives him a good rap across the chest.
While Curry only stumbled a bit in each case, even the smallest amount of physicality can lead to an injury, especially against a player with a history of injuries like Curry.
Thankfully, nothing bad happened. The physical play made for an entertaining series and Jackson's fears went on deaf ears.
9. Matt Barnes Gets a Little Love
This was really a flagrant foul in name only. Sure, there was plenty of malice behind Matt Barnes' hit on Zach Randolph, but the play was on the ball, Randolph was barely shaken up and it blew over quickly thereafter.
It was Barnes' intention to give Randolph a foul hard enough to stop him from scoring easily but not hard enough to warrant further action by the referees.
Best of all was the reaction from Randolph, who came out of the foul with that old-school rage that got him into trouble so often earlier in his career. He realized retaliation would only hurt his team, so he just went and gave Barnes a hug for the free throws and the extra possession.
8. Nate Robinson Pins C.J. Watson
There was a bit of a rough back-and-forth going on between Nate Robinson and C.J. Watson from Game 1 of the series between the Brooklyn Nets and the Chicago Bulls, and it all came to a head in Game 4 before Robinson had his huge fourth-quarter explosion.
Watson brought the ball up the court in the second quarter, and for whatever reason Robinson was irked by the way he was dribbling, walking or maybe just the way he was blinking.
Robinson did his best to pin him along the baseline, at which point Watson did his best to squeeze past.
Little Nate wouldn't let him.
He went for the ball, and then just went for Watson, giving him a bit of a shove and eventually pinning him against the scorer's table.
Luckily, Robinson did not get a Flagrant 2 foul, otherwise the Bulls could have been without him and his 23 fourth-quarter points later on in the contest.
7. Chris Paul's Bullet
When the Los Angeles Clippers were staring elimination in the face, sitting in a 14-point hole with less than three minutes left in the game, they completely gave in.
More specifically, Chris Paul lost his cool and earned himself an ejection in what could have been his final game in a Clippers uniform.
With Tayshaun Prince's free-throw attempt in the air, Paul sprinted toward the lane with the intent of rebounding a potential miss.
Paul sent both fists deep into Gasol's belly as Matt Barnes held him from behind, doubling Gasol over and earning himself a technical in the process.
He went ahead and shook hands with a few Grizzlies players, had his say with the referees and walked on back to the locker room.
6. Chris Andersen Forgets What League He's Playing in
When this one went down, it was the dirtiest play so far in the series between the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat.
It would get overtaken in Game 3, but this Game 2 altercation was a nice little precursor to what would happen in the next seven quarters.
Chris Andersen presumably forgot that he signed a contract with the Miami Heat and not the Ottawa Senators.
With Marco Belinelli bringing the ball around the three-point line, Andersen checked Belinelli into the front row and earned himself a flagrant foul.
5. David West Drops Al Horford
With the Atlanta Hawks putting a thumping on the Indiana Pacers in Game 3 of their first-round series, David West was trying his best to hold back a rage that was slowly growing inside of him.
West got a bit of a hard foul from Ivan Johnson on the play just before this one, so he got his revenge when Al Horford was leading the fast break on the other end of the floor.
West came up from behind Horford and gave him a rough shove with his left hand.
Jeff Teague came up from behind and gave the much bigger West a shove, leading to more shoving matches.
After the referees settled it all down, Horford earned a flagrant foul and Teague got himself a technical, all for a bit of silly shoving.
4. Joakim Noah Defends Nate...Sort of
Game 1 of the second-round series between the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat was a group of friends going out for some ice cream compared to what Games 2 and 3 evolved into.
After Chicago beat the Heat in Game 1, the physical intensity of the series went up a notch.
The Heat retaliated whenever Chicago gave them a thump, and eventually there was a back-and-forth of rough-and-tumble play.
This was perhaps the most odd display of physicality so far. Joakim Noah completely overreacted after Chris Andersen blocked Nate Robinson's attempt in the lane.
Anderson hit Robinson on his way up, leading to the two sprawling out on the floor and getting tangled up.
As the two were trying to get up, Noah sprinted over and gave Andersen a hard shove, leading to a nice little scrum.
3. Nazr Mohammed Blacks out
So far, this is about the worst single incident we've seen between the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat, although we still have at least two games left before a winner floats to the Eastern Conference finals.
Nazr Mohammed sized up LeBron James in the second quarter of Game 3, and for whatever reason, he took a swipe at the ball as LeBron was bringing it up the court.
Only instead of a swipe for the ball, it was more of a full-on bear hug, which LeBron spun out of, sending Mohammed to the ground in the process.
In one quick motion, Mohammed instantly became the favorite player of every Bulls fan for a split second, as he hopped up and delivered a swift shove to LeBron, knocking him onto his keister.
Nazr was tossed from the game, and he actually gave a pretty heartfelt apology on Twitter afterward, which was pretty cool.
Sorry for my overreaction & being ejected. I blacked out & just reacted after I was pushed down. I'm happy it only resulted w/ a push— Nazr Mohammed (@NazrMohammed) May 11, 2013
For the kids who were watching... That not the way to react on the basketball court.— Nazr Mohammed (@NazrMohammed) May 11, 2013
LeBron and the Heat got the last laugh in the form of a 10-point win and a 2-1 series lead.
2. J.R. Smith Earns a Suspension
With the Boston Celtics on their last legs, losing at home badly in Game 3 of their series against the New York Knicks, J.R. Smith gave them a reason to get mad and fight back a bit.
Smith sized up Jason Terry, shrugging his shoulder into his defender around the three-point line. Terry took a swipe at the ball, so Smith took a swipe at Terry's head with his elbow.
The blow landed right on the button, nailing Terry on the jaw and sending him sprawling.
Smith was tossed from the final seven minutes of the game and was suspended for Game 4, giving Boston the opening to get a bit of revenge.
Thankfully for Boston, the Celtics would pull off a win in Game 4 to save face and avoid the series sweep. They would even steal another win in Game 5 before the Knicks were able to eliminate them in Game 6.
1. Zach Randolph and Blake Griffin for the Gold
Zach Randolph and Blake Griffin get the lifetime achievement award for their series against each other, with this play being the perfect example of how the two of them played in their six first-round games.
You would need an abacus or the fingers and toes of the entire front row to count the number of times these two locked each other up discreetly to keep the other from grabbing a rebound.
This time around it was Griffin who held tight onto Randolph's arms, Randolph never giving up in his quest to get that board.
He eventually got the better of Griffin, who went crashing to the ground with Randolph on top of him.
The ensuing scrum looked to be the equivalent of some Olympic wrestling, as Randolph wrapped his arm high around Griffin's shoulder.
Both of Griffin's shoulders made contact with the ground, giving the round, the match and the gold to Randolph.