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Pacers: Shane Battier plays 'dirty'

MIAMI – Indiana Pacers players say they have to protect themselves, especially their knees, when Miami Heat forward Shane Battier is in the game during the Eastern Conference finals.

Ahead of Thursday's pivotal Game 5 with the series tied 2-2, Pacers big men David West and Roy Hibbert said part of the Pacers' preparation for the Heat is to watch out for Battier attempting to take shots at their knees.

"I (learned) to always have my guard up and protect my knees," West said. "(Battier) 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."

Earlier in the series, Hibbert accused Battier of a dirty play when Battier kneed him in the midsection on a drive to the basket. Hibbert said he is wary of Battier when he's on the floor and again called Battier a "dirty player."

"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 say I gave in to a dirty player."

Battier has declined to discuss the Pacers' opinion of his style of play during the series. An undersized power forward, Battier did say Thursday there's a challenge when guarding larger players like West and Hibbert in the post. At different times, Battier has also been accused of being a flopper.

"In a perfect world, we'd all love to be stoic, immovable forces where the force of very large men throwing themselves into you doesn't affect you," Battier said. "Yeah, that'd be great. But unfortunately, there's a thing called physics involved that seems to win out more often than not."

The Pacers stopped short of saying Battier was purposely trying to injure them.

"It's an irritant; when guys are bearing into your knees. I'm doubly conscious of it having an ACL (tear) a year and a half ago," West said. "I don't know (if it's an intent to injure), I just know the way he plays he's trying to make an impact any way he can."