As the Philadelphia 76ers entered Thursday night's game with what seemed like very little motivation to dominate, the Miami Heat came in with a chippy mindset looking to send a message to their possible second-round playoff opponent.
Miami Heat veteran Trevor Ariza set the tone with chippiness on Thursday as he got frustrated with Sixers star Joel Embiid after he accidentally landed on Ariza's ankle during a fall.
While on the sidelines, Ariza exchanged words with Embiid, who remained on the court. When the game stopped for a timeout moments later, the two would meet face to face halfway before getting separated by teammates and referees.
Ariza and Embiid cooled down, but the Heat weren't done making AmericanAirlines Arena an intense environment for the Sixers. When Heat veteran Udonis Haslem checked in for the first time this season, he was met with a standing ovation from the crowd. A few minutes later, he was sent back to the locker room for the remainder of the game as he got into an altercation with Sixers veteran Dwight Howard.
Howard, who plays a physical game, met his match on Thursday night when Haslem checked into the game. Typically, Howard's the one picking up enough technical fouls to see himself sent to the locker room early, but it was Haslem who got ejected on Thursday night.
"Dwight plays the way Dwight plays," Haslem said on Thursday after the game. "It was just a conversation between me and him where I just wanted to make it clear that the throwing down and the swinging of the elbows and things like that, we should kind of leave that out of the game for tonight, and I think he disagreed. When he disagreed, I disagreed, and it was a whole bunch of disagreeing.”
A verbal disagreement on the floor isn't anything new in basketball -- especially for Dwight Howard. Had Haslem left out the slightly physical move he made during the said disagreement, he certainly would've avoided ejection. However, that wasn't the case. But Haslem has no regrets.
“At the end of the day, I am who I am," Haslem continued. "I can’t change now. My stepmom texted me right after the game and said I did the right thing, so I have no doubts in my mind I did the right thing.”