MIAMI -- With 2:50 left in the first quarter of Game 1 between the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat, Shane Battier drove to the basket on the left side. He launched himself into center Roy Hibbert and created space by putting his knee into the midsection of the defender. An offensive foul was called on Battier and Hibbert crumbled to the ground for a bit.
It's something Hibbert took exception to at the time and Thursday night when it was described as an "inadvertent knee" by Battier. Hibbert responded on Twitter by saying, "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."
At Friday's shoot around, Hibbert was asked about his tweet and the entire situation and was very candid about his thoughts on it and whether or not he'd be willing to take another hit like that.
"It wasn't in my family jewels; it was more up here," Hibbert said as he pointed to his groin. "I've never seen him do that before, but I'm not sure. I didn't think that was cool. That did not look like a regular shooting motion for a layup."
He added, "It's not a normal shooting motion for a layup. You don't go with your knee by your nipple for a layup."
When he was asked how he's not concerned about being hit in the "family jewels," Hibbert explained, "They pay me all this money. I've got to be there. It's my job. They probably think the mentality is 'you hit him know, make him think about it, and he's not going to go back and put his body in the line of fire again,' but I have no problem with that. I have no problem putting my nuts in the line of fire."
While it's unlikely to happen again, it's not the only thing Hibbert has to deal with against the Miami Heat. The Pacers have to figure out a way to keep the Heat from scoring around the basket, where they made 29 shots in the restricted area in Game 2 and gave up 60 points in the paint. Over the past two days, the talk with the Pacers has been about "helping the helper" and giving Hibbert fewer plays to protect the rim with better perimeter defense and help on his backside when he does have to rotate over to deter someone driving to the basket.
"We've just got to be able to just help the helper," Hibbert said. "That's what Birdman and Chris Bosh made a living off of dump-off passes with stuff like that. We have our hands full, but we can stop the line drives. Hopefully we can protect the paint a little bit better."
The emphasis of the Pacers' defensive adjustments will likely be stopping penetration at the point of the dribbler coming off of a screen on the perimeter. If they can get that to work against the Heat players, then we'll have fewer opportunities for intentional or inadvertent knees in the line of fire.