HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — Have we learned nothing from the verbal transgressions of others, Frank Vogel?
Vogel, the Indiana Pacers’ coach, lobbed the first stone in his team’s Eastern Conference semifinal against the Miami Heat by telling reporters in Indianapolis that the Heat, in so many words, take flopping to artistic levels.
Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star has the goods:
“They are the biggest flopping team in the NBA,” Vogel said. “It’ll be very interesting to see how the referees officiate the series and how much flopping they reward.”
The Heat, who eliminated the New York Knicks on Wednesday, were fourth in the league in points allowed and fifth in the league in field goal percentage defense during the regular season. They like to swarm to the ball when it’s in the paint.
“Every drive to the basket, they have guys not making a play on the ball,” Vogel said, “but sliding in front of drivers. Oftentimes they’re falling down even before contact is even being made. It’ll be interesting to see how the series is officiated.”
The Heat roster does boast the league’s master technician at drawing offensive fouls, Shane Battier. But to suggest that they have the most accomplished group of actors in the league on that one roster is a bold statement.
Surely, Vogel’s statement was intended for the ears of the officials more than it was a direct shot at the Heat. At least we hope that was the case. We’ve all seen the results of bulletin-board material in these playoffs so far … Lakers center Andrew Bynum said something about close-out games being a breeze and the Lakers have lost two straight games since then.
Then again, Vogel’s team has nothing to lose. Most folks don’t have them upsetting the Heat anyway, so if this is his way of raising the stakes a bit for his team, well, more power to him. (With LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and crew waiting, the Pacers know they have their hands full.)
As long as he knows what he’s getting his team into!