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Tighter calls expected for Game 6 between Heat, Pacers

Published May 24, 2012 9:51 am

NBA playoffs • Series has been awfully rugged, so far.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Miami • The worst of the physical play in this series appears to be in the rearview mirror.

After the suspensions of Udonis Haslem and Dexter Pittman, both the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers feel the referees will take better control of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he expects tight early-game officiating to dictate cleaner play.

"I'm sure we'll get a good veteran [officiating] crew," Spoelstra said.

"Nobody's going to do anything, and I don't think anyone will be allowed to do anything over the line. We know what's at stake. This thing has to be decided between those four lines within the rules of the game. We know that clearly. That's our focus. It's certainly not about anything else."

Heat guard Dwyane Wade compared the rugged play in the series to the first-round matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies. Wade said the tighter officiating lessened tension on the court.

"The most physical series in this whole playoffs was the Clippers-Memphis series," Wade said.

"I don't know how they were able to ref that series. I thought they did a good job early on and making sure we're here to play basketball and we're not about the other stuff. And that's our focus. That's the Miami Heat focus, to come in and play the game, and I'm sure that's the NBA and the league's focus as well."

The Pacers and Heat combined for three flagrant fouls in Game 5, but neither side expects any retaliation. Heat forward LeBron James called this one of the most physical playoff series he's played in.

"We're too important for our team to retaliate," forward LeBron James said.

"Some of the hits that we take, not only in the postseason but the regular season, as well, have been border line. I know D-Wade has taken some. You all know I've taken some. It's a fine line. But you can't retaliate, as much as you want to you can't because we mean too much to our team."

James recognized defensively • On Wednesday, James headlined the NBA's All-Defensive Team by grabbing a team-high 53 points. It was his fourth consecutive selection.

James was the lone player to top 50 points, tallying 24 first-team votes. James, who also won the league's Most Valuable Player award, led the Heat in steals per game (1.9) and defensive rebounds (6.4). He helped Miami rank fourth in scoring defense (91.3) and third in forced turnovers (16.6).

James was joined on the first-team by Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka, Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen and Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.

Done with Granger • Pacers forward Danny Granger has something in common with The Decision when it comes to James.

James won't address either of them anymore.

Granger earlier compared Haslem's flagrant foul on Tyler Hansbrough to Metta World Peace elbowing James Harden. When asked to comment, James shook his head and laughed.

"I really don't have a comment," James said. "I really don't have a comment to anything he says anymore."

Granger and James have gotten into a few on-court altercations during the series, with Granger drawing three technical fouls.

Wade said he was surprised to see Granger comment on physical play after the way he's played in the series.

"I actually heard some of his quotes," Wade said.

"I heard the one about the 'Wild, Wild West.' I thought it was hilarious of him being the one that talks about things going on, altercations that are going on, because he's done a lot of the altercations."

No update on Bosh • Forward Chris Bosh, who will miss his fifth consecutive game, did not practice Wednesday.

Spoelstra said "it's too early to tell" when Bosh will return from a strained lower abdominal muscle he sustained in the first half of Game 1.

"He's doing a lot of rehab," Spoelstra said. "As soon as he takes another step, I'll let you know."