The Indiana Pacers have to be careful around Shane Battier.
Considered one of the most suffocating perimeter defenders in the NBA, Battier often draws praise for his seemingly superior intellect when guarding his opponents. He doesn't overpower them, nor is he heralded as a freakishly acrobatic athlete; he just outsmarts them.
Ask David West of the Indiana Pacers, and he'll tell you that's not all he does.
"I (learned) to always have my guard up and protect my knees," he said (via Brian Windhorst of ESPN). "(Battier) has got this funny way of moving into your knees. We're very conscious of that. We talk about making sure we protect our knees."
Surely West was kidding or just being overly sensitive. He's had problems with his knees (ACL) in the past, so it's understandable if he's a bit paranoid—only West isn't alone in his assessment of Battier's defensive sets.
"I know what (Battier) brings to the game and it's worked for him in the past. He has to do whatever he has to do to make sure his team wins," Pacers center Roy Hibbert said. "I'm going to watch my knees, watch my groin. ... To tell you the truth, I don't care. I'm in there, I'm playing tough. He has to do what he has to do."
He wasn't done either, going as far as calling Battier a dirty player.
"Obviously I don't like it but it's a part of the game," he added. "I don't want to look back say I gave in to a dirty player."
Sheesh. Battier has earned quite the reputation in the Indiana locker room it seems.
Does he care?
He hasn't let on if he does, refusing to comment on what Hibbert and West asserted. Battier did, however, attempt to defend himself against claims that he was a flopper.
"In a perfect world, we'd all love to be stoic, immovable forces where the force of very large men throwing themselves into you doesn't affect you," Battier said. "Yeah, that'd be great. But unfortunately, there's a thing called physics involved that seems to win out more often than not."
It comes as no surprise that Battier would use the laws of physics in an attempt to disprove anything he believes to be a fallacy. Like I said, he's a smart guy.
But is he a malicious one? Or is he just being targeted by a pair of frustrated Pacers?
"I don't know (if it's an intent to injure), I just know the way he plays he's trying to make an impact any way he can," West said of Battier.
No, West didn't come right out and say Battier purposely seeks to take out his knees, but it was implied.
Flops, fines, controversial whistles and now begrudged accusations—somehow, the Eastern Conference finals just keep getting more interesting.