Chris Andersen didn't wait long to christen the Eastern Conference Finals series between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers with its first technical foul. Late in the first quarter of Game 1, the Birdman got tangled up with Tyler Hansbrough on the baseline, prompting a quick whistle and the series' first tech.
The contact came as Andersen swooped to the hoop (because swooping is his main mode of travel) to try to tip a ball in as Shane Battier and Hansbrough wrestled underneath. Most of the contact on the play was actually between Andersen and Battier, but Hansbrough took exception.
After a slight extension of Andersen's left arm toward Hansbrough, the whistle sounded, signaling that the officials weren't going to permit much in terms of extracurricular activity.
Andersen had already scored two points and had a major impact on defense, so perhaps Hansbrough was trying to get him to lose his cool.
Birdman is a huge presence right now.Discussed that today with @sidrosenberg— Brian Geltzeiler (@hoopscritic) May 23, 2013
Of course, the Pacers' hyperactive forward isn't really known for doing a whole lot of thinking on the floor. He's usually too busy creating contact, drawing fouls and generally looking like he's on the verge of snapping himself. So any sort of altercation between the two would have been entertaining, but probably a little scary as well.
Pacers and Heat are recklessly attacking each other akin to two psychotic wombats in a cavern. And we all know what that looks like!— Not Bill Walton (@NotBillWalton) May 23, 2013
At least we have more wombat fights to look forward to over the next few games.
Tensions were running high even before the technical foul, though, as Shane Battier went all "Karl Malone" on Roy Hibbert, delivering a solid knee to the center's man region as he drove the lane.
Who suffered more pain during that Shane Battier drive: Roy Hibbert or the audience?— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) May 23, 2013
Shortly after the initial tie-up between Andersen and Hansbrough, David West connected with Andersen's nose on a totally inadvertent elbow. The pair were battling on the boards and the Birdman's beak was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
That led to some first-aid that included a couple of cotton plugs jammed up Andersen's nose. What he did next may be difficult to erase from your mind.
This is a series that'll certainly feature plenty of physicality. Indiana has a gritty reputation and something of a chip on its shoulder after losing in six games to the Heat in last year's conference semifinals.
At the same time, the Heat are probably a little on edge themselves. After keeping their cool (for the most part) in a testy series with the Chicago Bulls, they're probably playing with a few frayed nerves.
We know the referees are keeping things under control so far, as LeBron James actually picked up a pair of first-quarter fouls, a true rarity for the King.
Only the third time this season that LeBron has had two fouls in the first quarter. The other two instances were in December.— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) May 23, 2013
The bodies were certainly flying early in this one. Other than a little elbow from Battier to Hansbrough at the end of the third quarter and a hard foul on an airborne James to start the fourth, it looked like the rest of the game would be an incident-free affair.
And then this happened:
Norris Cole hits David West below the belt twitter.com/BleacherReport…— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 23, 2013
With a start like this, rest assured, this one's only going to get chippier.