Call it Groin Gate or whatever you wish.
But two Indiana players on Friday expressed dismay about two Heat offensive fouls, by Shane Battier and Norris Cole, that inflicted discomfort around the groin area of Roy Hibbert and David West in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Speaking hours before Game 2, Indiana forward Paul George went as far as to call the plays “dirty” and “not called for.”
The Battier foul, in the first quarter, was a knee to Hibbert’s midsection as Battier drove for a layup. On the other play, Cole used his arm to push off West and made hard contact with West’s groin area, with 3:01 left in the fourth quarter.
“That’s not aggressive, not a basketball play,” George said. “It’s not a tough play. It’s a dirty play.”
On Wednesday night, Hibbert said via Twitter: “You can knee or kick me every time you drive 2 the rim. I’ll be there to protect the rim. That wasn’t inadvertent. Battier knew what he was doing.”
Asked Friday why he made that comment on Twitter, Hibbert said: “The reason I said something is I saw someone write it’s an inadvertent knee. That’s bull [expletive]. He knew what he was doing. If he wants to do that, it’s fine. I’m still going to be there to protect the rim.”
Hibbert said he believes it was intentional because “it wasn’t a regular shooting motion for a layup. You don’t shoot with your knee by your nipple unless you’re trying to do something. [But] I wasn’t whining. It was an offensive foul. I’m cool with that.”
Hibbert said he “thought” about retaliating against Battier, “but I said I need to be in the game to really make an impact. In my younger days, I probably would have done something. We need every possible body out there.”
But Hibbert said he understands “it’s playoff basketball. We’re tough guys. I wasn’t saying Coach needs to send this into the league. I was just saying, ‘I’ll be here no matter what, David will be here no matter what.’ They want to play tough. That’s what they have to do. We’re not backing down.”
Battier declined to speak to reporters before Friday’s game. Cole said he did not want to comment about the play in question, but said: “I’m not a dirty player.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Pacers coach Frank Vogel declined to specifically discuss the Battier play.
But Vogel said: “I don’t think Shane Battier is a dirty player. I just think it’s teams playing hard. I don’t think there’s anything dirty about this series. We’re competing for a championship. It’s going to be intense, relentless and physical.”
Said Chris Bosh: “I don’t think they were shots or anything like that. Some plays are going to be physical. We’ve never, ever backed down from anybody. We’re not worried about sending messages.”
Asked what he should do when an opponent is being physical with them, Dwyane Wade had a simple answer: “Man up and get into the game.”
• The NBA did not upgrade the Battier or Cole fouls to flagrant fouls on Friday but did change Pacers reserve center Ian Mahinmi’s foul early in the fourth quarter on LeBron James from a common foul to a Flagrant One.
THIS AND THAT
• Bosh entered Game 2 with only 12 rebounds in four games against the Pacers this season, including two in Game 1.
“A lot of the times guards go over [the] top, and I don’t get the benefit of the doubt,” Bosh said. “People say, ‘You could have got it.’ But LeBron has like a 50-inch [vertical jump]. He’s going to be jumping over me a lot of times. I don’t mind that at all. I don’t count numbers. I just count wins.”
• Battier entered shooting only 24.1 percent in the playoffs (13 for 54) and 24 percent on threes (12 for 50). “Shane gets the most open threes of anybody I’ve seen,” James said.
• Vogel, before the game: “We’ve got a great deal of confidence we can beat this basketball team.”
• James’ triple double in Game 1 was his ninth in the playoffs, tying Wilt Chamberlain for fifth on the all-time list — behind Magic Johnson (30), Jason Kidd (11) and Rajon Rondo and Larry Bird (10 each).