The playoff matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns certainly does not feel like a first-round series. The Suns' intense 99-90 Game 1 win on Sunday was marked by injuries to both Chris Paul and LeBron James and featured an altercation between the two teams that ultimately led to four technical fouls and an ejection.
The dust-up came in the aftermath of a play in which James injured his shoulder following a foul by Paul on an attempted box out on a James free throw. The replay showed that Paul grabbed James' shoulder while he was jumping, which led to a hard fall and James writhing in pain on the floor for several moments.
Lakers Alex Caruso and Montrezl Harrell each received a technical foul for the ensuing altercation, while Suns guard Cameron Payne was ejected after receiving two technicals for his part. The real controversy, however, was Paul's foul on James. After the game, Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Paul's actions were "dangerous" and "overly aggressive."
"My view was an overly aggressive box out, dangerous play where Bron was in the air and got undercut and some guys stood up for him," Vogel said. "I didn't see the exact exchange in terms of what happened with the altercation, but that's why they have the video. They look at that and figure out what happened."
James refused to address Paul's foul when asked about it after the game, simply responding with "I'll be ready for Game 2." Lakers big man Anthony Davis agreed with Vogel that it was "a dangerous play," but also said, "that's playoff basketball." Afterward, Paul said that he didn't see anything wrong with the play.
"I don't know anything about that. I have absolutely nothing to say about that. We're just playing basketball and competing," Paul told Yahoo Sports. "I'm just thankful we got the win, and I'm looking forward to Game 2."
Paul injured his shoulder in the second quarter when he collided with teammate Cameron Johnson, and he didn't look the same afterward. However, Paul did say he would "absolutely" play in Game 2. The Suns held on for the win despite Paul's limitations, thanks largely to 34 points from Devin Booker.
If the intensity of Game 1 is any indication, this might be the most exciting series of the NBA postseason.