There's physical playoff basketball, and then there's "dirty bull***," according to Rick Carlisle.
The Mavericks' coach, understandably, wasn't too pleased after Dallas lost Game 2, 102-99, to Oklahoma City and fell into a 2-0 hole in the series. But what really ticked him off was the amount of "cheap" shots delivered by the Thunder.
"Playoff basketball is physical," he said after the game. "We don't like the cheap shots when they give them and they don't like them if we give them. That's the nature of competition."
Notice Carlisle's choice of words when he says "when" for OKC and "if" for his squad?
"I love hard-played, clean, competitive playoff series. Throw the ball up and may the best team win. But the dirty bull**** has to stop. We don't want anybody getting hurt out there," he said.
Does Carlisle have a legitimate point?
The level of intensity rose in the first quarter when Serge Ibaka hit Nowitzki in the face in attempt at a blocked shot. No foul was called. On Oklahoma City's next possession, following a Nowitzki 3-pointer, Kendrick Perkins shoved last year's NBA Finals MVP in the back while Kevin Durant knocked down a shot of his own from long range. Nowitzki retaliated by shoving back after the made basket and Perkins responded by taking a swing at Nowitzki's head.
The two needed to be separated fast -- Ibaka had to escort Perkins far down to the Thunder bench. Both combatants were given technical fouls.
Whether the Thunder played dirty or not, the 2012 NBA Playoffs often have these types of fouls. None of the physical play in Game 2 of the Mavericks-Thunder series was any different than Tyson Chandler's hard foul (which was somehow ruled a flagrant) on LeBron James on Saturday. It happens, especially when your team happens to be playing against a player like Perkins.
And if Carlisle ever finds himself complaining about dirty play again, he might want to remember that it was his player who delivered a "wet willy" in the middle of a game. Does it get dirtier than that?