This Eastern Conference finals series just keeps getting more interesting.
As though an NBA review into officiating inconsistencies, flopping fines, marginal players emerging in the clutch and plain old entertaining basketball were not enough, the war of words continues between the Heat and Pacers. With Game 5 set to tip off Thursday night in Miami, Pacers big men Roy Hibbert and David West say they are conscious of protecting their knees whenever Shane Battier is on the floor for Miami.
“I know what he brings to the game, and it’s worked for him in the past,” Hibbert said, according to ESPN.com. “He has to do whatever he has to do to make sure his team wins. 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. Obviously, I don’t like it, but it’s a part of the game. I don’t want to look back [and] say I gave in to a dirty player.”
West is especially aware of the practice by Battier, since the Indiana forward suffered an ACL injury a year ago. Although West is not sure Battier has an intent to injure anyone, the Pacers apparently make it a point of emphasis to be careful when Battier is on the court.
“I [learned] to always have my guard up and protect my knees,” West said. “He 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.”
Battier did not directly address the accusations one way or another when asked by reporters. This is not the first time in the series the Pacers have raised questions about Battier’s actions. Following Game 1, Hibbert said Battier intentionally tried knee him in the groin on a layup attempt.
The rest of these games should be a blast.