The NBA Is Turning Into Pro Wrestling

Heat-Pacers game 5 had more violence than the average episode of Monday Night Raw.

Andrew Innerarity / Reuters

The Pacers-Heat series is getting chippy. The trouble started earlier in the series, when Lance Stephenson and Juwan Howard — two bench players, no less — had a a disagreement prior to game 4, after Lance Stephenson made a choking gesture at LeBron during the Pacers’ dominant game 3 performance.

Yesterday, the tension got physical, with three flagrant-ones over the course of the game.

3. First, Tyler Hansbrough got a little overenthusiastic trying to block Dwyane Wade on a drive to the basket.

4. Udonis Haslem didn’t take kindly to the violence against his longtime teammate, and responded in kind.

5. And toward the end of the game, benchwarmer Dexter Pittman decided to take everything to the next level by destroying Lance Stephenson.

Pay attention around the 50-second mark, when Pittman winks.

The playoffs are a tense time, and players tend to get aggressive when they think either their teammates or their teams are being disrespected. But Pittman’s egregious elbow on Stephenson, which came in the waning seconds of a nearly 30-point blowout, has no place in sports. And unlike Hansbrough and Haslem’s fouls, Pittman can’t make the excuse that he was just playing the ball.

Expect some serious fines and, possibly, suspensions — especially for Pittman — to be handed out in the next few days. If both Haslem and Pittman get suspended, that might mean some serious playing time for Eddy Curry, and serious playing time for Eddy Curry means good things for the Pacers. (And us.)

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