MIAMI -- Roy Hibbert and David West are charged with protecting the paint for the Pacers. But they say they're also having to protect themselves, specifically their knees, when they come in close proximity to Heat forward Shane Battier.
"I [figured out] to always have my guard up and protect my knees," West said. "[Battier] has this funny way of moving into your knees. We're very conscious of that. We talk about making sure that we protect our knees."
It's not the first time a Pacer has complained about Battier doing something uncouth on the court. After a flying knee caught Hibbert in the midsection, the Indiana big man said he thought Battier did it on purpose. And Hibbert sided with West on his claim that Battier is taking some unnecessary shots, even calling him a "dirty player."
"I protect myself at all times when I come on the floor," Hibbert said. "I know what he 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. And that's fine. But I'm always going to protect myself ... Watch my knees, watch my groin. It's not just Battier. Everybody in the league at this point will do whatever it takes to win and if that's what's necessary, it's fine."
"To tell you the truth, I don't care," Hibbert said. "I'm in there, I'm playing tough. If he has to hit below the belt, or whatever like that, he has to do what he has to do to win like that, it's fine. I'm just going to keep playing agressive.
"Obviously I don't like it. But it's a part of the game," Hibbert continued. "I don't want to look back and say I gave in to a dirty player. Whatever you have to do you do. I don't personally do it, but I'm a different player."
Battier is known for being a scrappy, irritating player. He takes charges, he flops, he pushes, he does little things. It's his style and it's gotten him very far in the league. What exactly he's doing in terms of "taking shots" at someone's knees is hard to know, but West wouldn't label it as intentionally trying to injure.
"It's an irritant; when guys are bearing into your knees. I'm doubly conscious of having an ACL a year-and-a-half ago," West said. "I don't know [if he's trying to injure], I just know the way he plays he's trying to make an impact any way he can."