Pacers’ Roy Hibbert calls Heat’s Shane Battier a ‘dirty player’
Pacers center Roy Hibbert called out Shane Battier for the second time during the Eastern Conference finals, accusing the Heat forward of being a “dirty player” at shootaround in advance of Game 5 on Thursday night.
ESPN.com reports that Hibbert and teammate David West are wary of Battier going after their knees.
“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,” 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.
“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 said Battier, who reportedly has refused to respond to the accusations, has “this funny way of moving into your knees.”
“[You] can knee or kick me every time [you] drive [to] the rim,” Hibbert wrote on his Twitter account. “I’ll be there [to] protect the rim. That wasn’t inadvertent. Battier knew what he was doing.”
Battier, listed at 6-foot-8 and 220 pounds, is seeing plenty of time against a huge, physical Pacers front line that includes the 7-2, 278-pound Hibbert and the 6-9, 250-pound West.
The dirty-play issue has only been half of the drama during the series, which has also seen an inordinate amount of flopping. Three players — West, Pacers guard Lance Stephenson and Heat forward LeBron James — were fined $5,000 apiece for flops in Game 4.
Battier has long been associated with flopping, too. CBSSports.com reports that Battier addressed the issue on Thursday, suggesting that bodies will sometimes fly around in a physical sport.
“In a perfect world, we’d all love to be stoic, immovable forces, that the force of very large men throwing themselves into you doesn’t affect you. Yeah, it’d be great,” Battier said. “But unfortunately, there’s a thing called physics involved, and it seems to win out more often than not.”
Earlier this week, before Game 4, James said that he understood that flopping can create a competitive advantage. The 2013 MVP then fouled out of Game 4 — just the fifth time in his career that he’s been disqualified for fouls — and disputed four of the six foul calls.
Battier, 34, is averaging 3.5 points, two rebounds and 2.8 fouls in 20.8 minutes per game against the Pacers. He’s shooting just 14.3 percent in the series and has struggled with his shot throughout the postseason, averaging just 4.9 points on 23.4 percent shooting.
Hibbert, 26, is averaging 22.8 points and 12 rebounds against the Heat. Finding a way to slow down Indiana’s monster center is at the top of Miami’s list of adjustments for Game 5.