The Indiana Pacers played the Miami Heat about as close as any team has all year, but for their effort, coach Frank Vogel’s squad was beaten by a LeBron James’ layup at the final buzzer.
It must have felt like a proverbial kick to the you-know-what, but after it was all said and done, Pacers center Roy Hibbert seemed to be far more upset with an actual hit to the groin on the part of Shane Battier.
U can knee or kick me every time u drive 2the rim. Ill be there 2protect the rim. That wasn’t inadvertent. Battier knew what he was doing
— Roy Hibbert (@Hoya2aPacer) May 23, 2013
For Battier’s actions, the Heat’s super-sub was assessed an offensive foul. However, Battier is a savvy veteran who very rarely does anything on the basketball court without a bigger plan in mind. Hibbert is unquestionably the star shot-blocker of the 2013 Playoffs and has been feasting on opponents’ drives for a month now.
The action was most likely an effort to at least get Hibbert thinking about whether or not to attempt to block a layups as the series moves forward.
The teams are trying to beat each other up for the right to compete against the Western Conference champion in the NBA Finals. Every advantage, no matter how minute, could come up huge down the road.
So Hibbert just wanted Battier to know that he would be remaining in the lane — no matter how many knees and elbows are tossed his way.
Here’s a GIF of the play in question. Do you think Battier’s knee came up by accident, or was it on purpose?
[GIF via SB Nation]