In the last couple of days there has been some pretty physical play in the NBA. But hey, that's expected in the playoffs. Players are expected to raise the intensity to another level. They're in the midst of a best-of-seven series, and they see the same players guarding them each night. Tempers are bound to fly.
Three cases in particular involved Magic center, and 2009 Defensive Player of the Year, Dwight Howard, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo and Heat guard Dwyane Wade. Let us now take a look at each incident of physical play, and attempt to figure out if the refs made the right call.
Exhibit A: Howard's elbow to the head of Samuel Dalembert.
The Result: No flagrant foul was called at the time, but the NBA reviewed the play and Howard has been suspended for tonight's Game 6 at Philadelphia.
The Verdict: Howard probably deserved the suspension. It was a stupid thing of him to do, trying to elbow Dalembert in the head. He got caught in the heat of the moment and let it boil over. As a result, the Magic will now be without its best player, as well as PG Courtney Lee, for Game 6. In other words, the 76ers will likely push this series back to central Florida for Game 7.
Exhibit B: Rondo's fould on Brad Miller at the end of Game 5 in Boston.
The Result: No flagrant foul was called. Just a regular foul. Rondo has not been disciplined for his actions.
The Verdict: This should have been called a flagrant foul. Rondo didn't even try to make a play on the ball. He clearly went straight for Miller's head. I think the refs and the league dropped the ball on this one, because the call potentially cost the Bulls that game (even though Miller still had a chance to make the free throws).
Exhibit C: Wade's foul on Maurice Evans.
The play occurs at about the :43 mark.
The Result: Wade was called for a flagrant foul in what was already a physical game.
The Verdict: I think this was a bad call, and not just because I'm a Heat fan. This is a play that Wade attempts to make on defense all the time. He was clearly making a play on the ball, and there was some body contact, which should've been called a foul, but not a flagrant foul. This play was ridiculously close to being a clean block. I know the game was getting chippy, but this should not have been called a flagrant foul. Again, I think the refs blew this call.
Of course, all of these calls are subject to the ref's interpretation of Rule 12 Part B Section IV of the NBA's rule book:
"Section IV--Flagrant Foul a. If contact committed against a player, with or without the ball, is interpreted to be unnecessary, a flagrant foul--penalty (1) will be assessed. A personal foul is charged to the offender and a team foul is charged to the team. "