The NBA announced that it will review a number of plays from game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat. The one that has caught the attention of…everyone…is D-Wade's flying elbow to the head of Lance Stephenson.
So Wade runs down the lane on a transition play, possibly looking at ball carrier Paul George on the right wing. Lance Stephenson tries to provide a bit of an obstruction by pedaling into Wade's path. Wade leaps into the air, throws his right forearm into Stephenson's temple. Stephenson crumbles. He gets up, and after play is halted on a reach in foul, he doubles over.
Given Wade's history of "dirty", or at least reckless plays, you have to wonder whether it was intentional. The TNT guys — Reggie Miller in particular — didn't see anything malicious. Maybe not, but it certainly was reckless. Why did he jump into the air? Was he trying to jump out of the way, only to realize Stephenson was heading in the same direction? Was he even looking at Stephenson when the elbow happened? Or was there no way he could have not known that Stephenson was right there? These will be the things the NBA will look at.
It's probably the only play being reviewed with suspension potential. They will also be looking at the extended elbow David West gave Mario Chalmers's arm on a screen, but I doubt anything more than a fine (if anything) will come out of that.
But chances are, Wade will get to play in game 3. Remember when Wade dangerously bulldozed Darren Collison last year and didn't get suspended? That's probably what will happen here. It will be difficult to establish intent, so my guess is they will issue a retrospective flagrant one and be done with it.
Looking ahead, this series will only get tougher for the Pacers. Remember last year when they were up 2-1 and everyone wrote off the Heat, only to be embarrassed when LeBron and Wade turned it up a notch and the Pacers couldn't even come close to stopping them? That could happen again this year, though to be fair, this Pacers team appears much more resilient this time around.
The problem is, as much as Wade is struggling with his knees or fitness or form, you have to wonder whether he has another explosive couple of games left in him like last year. As much as LeBron has dominated, he's been doing it without forcing things too much, and you have to wonder when he will say, "Stuff it," and just start annihilating everyone in his way. Not to mention guys like Ray Allen and Shane Battier, who have so far been virtually non-existent out there. Those guys should have at least one good game in them this series.
On the other hand, I've had that sinking feeling throughout the first two games. I kept thinking the Heat would wear the Pacers down and eventually break the game wide open, but the Pacers have managed to withstand the waves of onslaughts and keep the games close down to the final possessions. It remains to be seen if they can keep doing this as the series gets tighter and the margin for error gets even slimmer.