The Eastern Conference finals have become an incredibly difficult series to officiate, with excessive and exaggerated contact making for just two of the complications. With so much at stake, the level of gamesmanship and frustration has been understandably high, to the point that the assessment of a few technical fouls per game is now routine.
But it was Miami's Chris Andersen who earned the first flagrant foul of the series after blindsiding Tyler Hansbrough in the backcourt during Game 5 on Thursday and subsequently escalating the conflict after some "polite" conversation. For all of the contact and posturing, Andersen received only a flagrant foul 1 -- a penalty that resulted in two free-throw attempts and possession for the Pacers, but spared Andersen an ejection.
The NBA could soon rectify that oversight. This is an offense so unnecessary and severe that it warranted an ejection, and thus could very well draw a suspension in lieu of that initial mistake.
Many have naturally used Nazr Mohammed's ejection-drawing shove of LeBron James in the second round as a point of comparison, though Andersen's initial hit on Hansbrough may be far worse. (The Bulls' Mohammed was not suspended in addition to the ejection.) Tom Ziller of SB Nation put it best in saying that Andersen essentially committed two separate flagrant-level plays: The first was an unprovoked hit on a player whom Andersen had been physically challenging all series, and the second was an ejection-level push that only made matters worse.