Heat: Get used to 'physical' style

Updated: May 24, 2013, 4:24 PM ET
By Brian Windhorst | ESPN.com

MIAMI -- The Indiana Pacers feel like the Miami Heat's game plan, and especially Shane Battier's, in the Eastern Conference finals is to intimidate them with physical play. Heading into Game 2 Friday against the defending NBA champs, the Pacers want the message to be that they will not be affected by it.

Pacers center Roy Hibbert criticized Battier on Twitter on Thursday for a play in Game 1 where Battier kneed him in the midsection on a drive to the basket. Battier was called for an offensive foul. Hibbert said the blow was intentional and was aimed at getting him to not be as aggressive in defending the rim.

"I've never seen [Battier] do that before. I didn't think that was cool of him. ... I personally thought it wasn't a regular shooting motion for a layup, his knee was out to begin with," Hibbert said after the Pacers' shootaround Friday. "It was him saying, 'I'll hit you first now, and maybe you won't be there later on,' and I'm saying, I'm going to be there."

Both coaches downplayed the events of the game, which included several borderline plays, including Heat guard Norris Cole being called for a foul for hitting the Pacers' David West between the legs. Battier did not speak to the media Friday.

Asked about Hibbert's take on Battier, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said: "The game will be decided between the four lines tonight. Everything else is just talk."

"The reason I said something was because I saw somebody write it was an inadvertent knee and that's bull----," Hibbert said. "He knew what he was doing, man. That's fine if he wants to do that, but I'll still be there to protect the rim. ... We need everybody on our team to compete. We can't have anybody thrown out of the game or suspended for a game. To be honest, I thought about [retaliating], but I need to be in the game to make an impact. In my younger days I probably would've [retaliated]."

Battier also got into several minor dustups with Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough. One resulted in a technical foul on the Heat's Chris Andersen when he stepped into the fray.

"We play physical but we play smart, we don't play dirty," Hansbrough said. "Playing dirty is not part of the game. I feel like [Battier] was pressuring me a little bit more. I don't know their game plan, but it felt like that."

While the Pacers have talked a lot about the physical play, the only discipline from Game 1 went against Indiana. The NBA on Friday retroactively assessed Pacers center Ian Mahinmi a flagrant foul for a play on a LeBron James shot attempt early in the fourth quarter of Game 1. It was called a normal foul during the game and upgraded after review.

The drama carries over from the playoffs last season, when hard fouls and cheap fouls became a regular occurrence between the teams. Dwyane Wade said the Pacers should be ready for more of it as this series goes on.

"It's the playoffs, guys are out there and it's a physical game," Wade said. "You've got to man up and get into the game. It's the Eastern Conference finals, you've got two teams who want to move on to the Finals. It's not going to be a preseason game, it's not going to be a regular-season game, it's going to be the Eastern Conference finals. You're going to leave the game feeling like you got hit by a Mack truck."

Prior to this series, 84 teams lost the first game of a best-of-seven series to the defending NBA champions, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, and only 14 came back to win the series (16.7 percent).

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