The NBA playoffs can get physical and chippy at the best of times as teams do battle every other night in pursuit of the thing that matters most. As many experts say, it doesn’t become a series until things get a little heated.
In the case of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, things needlessly got out of hand in the 119-108 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in game four of their first-round playoff series and they have paid the price for it.
The league has fined Durant $15,000 for his flagrant two foul on Justin Anderson with just 50 seconds left in the game. It led to his first career postseason ejection and second career ejection.
Westbrook was fined $25,000 on Sunday “for directing inappropriate language toward a fan” at the American Airlines arena, something which the NBA has been clamping down on.
Both cases were avoidable, especially as the Thunder had just dominated another game against the Mavericks.
Speaking after the game Durant acknowledged his mistake but claimed he wasn’t trying to hurt Anderson at all.
“I wasn’t trying to hurt him,” Durant said. “Plenty of plays this season where I blocked shots like that from behind. Just unfortunate I fouled him over the head. It was a flagrant, even though I wasn’t trying to intentionally foul him. It was just bad timing.”
All appeared to be good between the two post-game, though, as they were pictured shaking hands.
The former MVP also believed that neither team was going out to hurt each other in any way and appreciated that this is how competitive things get in the postseason.
“I don’t believe they’re trying to hurt us, and we’re not trying to hurt them,” Durant said. “We’re going to do some talking. We’re going to do some shoving here and there because that’s how competitive both teams are.”
Durant will be happy to know, however, that the NBA will not be suspending him for the incident and he will be free to play in game five when the Thunder can close out the series on their home floor.
The last thing OKC would need is to lose one of their stars to a suspension with a mouthwatering second-round series with the San Antonio Spurs on the horizon.
The Thunder are 3-1 up over the Mavericks and barring a miracle, should progress to meet Gregg Popovich’s men later this week.
KD’s ejection from the game soured what was a good night for the team after they recovered from a setback at home in game two to take both games on the road in Texas.
In this form, the Thunder must not be written off and cause a threat to any team in the league on their day but they must keep their temperament in check and not let it spoil a run at the Larry O’Brien trophy.