The Indiana Pacers pulled out a do-or-die 95-88 victory Thursday night over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of the first round of the NBA playoffs. However, it wasn’t an easy win — at least emotionally — for the No. 1 seed.
Things got chippy between Indiana guard George Hill and Atlanta forward Mike Scott in the second quarter with less than 20 seconds on the clock.
Both Hill and Scott walked away with technical fouls, but it’s what happened near the bench that’s got people talking. USA Today asks, “Could Paul George be suspended for Pacers-Hawks Game 7?” The paper writes:
[I]n the heat of their showdown, Pacers star Paul George and backup Rasual Butler — who were both not in the game — made small steps onto the court. They remained near the bench.
Therein lies the problem.
“During an altercation, all players not participating in the game must remain in the immediate vicinity of their bench,” the NBA rulebook says. “Violators will be suspended, without pay, for a minimum of one game and fined up to $50,000.”
If George did get the boot from Game 7, it obviously doesn’t bode well for the Pacers who have been struggling this whole series. But will he?
Historically, the NBA has been pretty strict about enforcing this rule, but recently the organization seems to have been a little more lax.
Washington Wizards fans will remember they faced the same fears about Marcin Gortat, who reportedly made moves from the bench during the showdown between Nene and the Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler in Game 3 of their playoff series. Gortat ultimately played in Game 4, helping the Wizards surge past the Bulls. Nene — who was involved directly in the altercation — was the only player suspended.
It’s impossible to tell which way the NBA will go in George’s case, but currently, Pacers coach Frank Vogel doesn’t seem too concerned. He told USA Today after the game:
“I’m not concerned about any suspensions until we hear something,” adding that he didn’t expect any.
The Pacers — with or without George — will face Atlanta next on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.