The Risk of Bulls Retaliation Against the Pacers' Excessively Physical Play

The Risk of Bulls Retaliation Against the Pacers' Excessively Physical Play
Kyle Korver responded to the passionate cries from Scottie Pippen and many fans for the Bulls to break serious NBA rules in response to the dirty physicality of the Pacers in their playoff series.
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Emotions ran deep throughout Game 3 of the Bulls-Pacers series with the intentionally flagrant play of -- most notably -- Jeff Foster on Derrick Rose and Luol Deng.
Scottie Pippen, calling the game on CSN Chicago alongside Neil Funk and Stacey King, "implored the Chicago Bulls to do the same." To which Kyle Korver responded in a radio interview that such actions would be counter-intuitive to winning (; h/t: ColonelFatheart):
"It's such a different game than when Scottie played. I agree with everything he is saying but we can't just go out there and hammer somebody," Korver said Friday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "You watch the highlights of the old days and guys getting their heads taken off and fights or whatever. If you do that now you're suspended three or four games, you're fined incredible amounts of money. The league has really cut down on that stuff."
"I don't think we're upset about it," Korver said of the Pacers' physical play. "I think you expect that in the playoffs. [Thursday night] Jeff Foster had a couple of pretty hard fouls. I think it's what you expect when you're playing in the playoffs. We're looking forward to Saturday. I'm sure there's going to be some pretty hard fouls on both sides."
Against a productive player like Kevin Garnett, there could be value in retaliation because he'll pull back, understanding that such continuation takes him off the floor. The Pacers don't really lose much if Foster took himself off the floor retaliating to the retaliation. Not only does retaliation then increase the risk of Rose being injured, but the risk of a Bulls player taking a Flagrant 2 and a suspension that would bleed into the second round.

The Pacers are playing dirty by design. Ironically, though, they're losing this series at the FT line -- specifically being beat by Rose's .898 FT% on only 13 less FTAs than the entire Indy squad (62 Pacers FTAs to Rose's 49), Tom Ziller noted (

You play to win the games, but an argument can be made that Indy's perfect execution of being ultra-physical is literally self-defeating. The better one is that it's their only hope because they suck at basketball, BullsBlogger noted (Blog-a-Bull):
This hasn't been the Bulls looking their best, but that's the Pacers goal: to rough up (and in Jeff Foster's case, more than just rough, pretty much blatantly flagrant) and try and compensate for their lack of talent. The Bulls don't have to play that game, they just have to win the game and never see these guys again.
On one hand, it's important that physicality doesn't disrupt the Bulls' best offense -- their aggressive basket attack and inside-out game. On the other, maximizing Rose's physical capabilities means keeping him as healthy as possible. If that risk is necessary, it's not against a 37-win Pacers team.
The tangible risk of losing a Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Keith Bogans, or even Kurt Thomas for a game against the Magic -- or even the Hawks -- in the second round far outweighs any mystical intangible reward of retaliation. If Stan Van Gundy, Larry Drew, Doc Rivers, or Erik Spoelstra are gonna send their boys headhunting, they simply will, regardless of how the Bulls retaliate against the Pacers. There's a reactionary meatball in me that wants to "But, but, but..." but the facts are the facts; basketball isn't football or hockey and that crap never works in baseball.
That said, in those series', the option of reigning in Rose's aggressiveness to any degree will likely be too ridiculous to seriously entertain.
Though Tom Thibodeau attributed the physicality to playoff basketball and appeared to shake it off, there will be added physicality to be expected from Thomas and maybe Bogans, but nothing flagrant, as Thibs has made it clear those fouls aren't acceptable. Remember that Ronnie Brewer is nursing an injured hand and Omer Asik can't handle the ultra-physicality of the Pacers bigs, let alone Dwight Howard in a second round Game 1.
The league is reviewing Foster's actions should come down on Foster for at least the pattern of excessive violence clearly displaying a reckless disregard for player safety -- if not an intent to injure. That would be just. If the actions go unpunished, the truth is that headhunting against the Pacers is self-defeating in a greater manner than it has been to Indy.
In Game 1, Foster attempted to push Rose down in mid-air after a whistle by the head:

That was before the more controversial clothesline-lite attempt in the Game 3:

And the elbow strike to Deng's head in the same game:

UPDATE: Bradford Doolittle didn't hold anything back in his recap on the Pacers' dirty play (Basketball Prospectus):

Let's begin by addressing the Pacers' thuggish play on Thursday. They had to do it. It may be the best way for them to stay close to the Bulls who, for the most part, have refused to retaliate against the muggings dished out by the likes of Jeff Foster and Josh McRoberts. Indiana committed 20 fouls in the game; Foster and McRoberts were tagged with just two each. That doesn't begin to describe what was an ugly string of non-basketball action, where a player brutalizes another player without even a good-faith effort at going for the ball. The officiating crew (who deserve to be called out: Mike Callahan, John Goble and Ken Mauer) let it go on, again and again, without issuing a technical foul, a flagrant foul or kicking anybody out of the game. They could, and should, have employed all three tools to keep the Pacers in hand. Perhaps they were operating under some misguided notion that playoff basketball is somehow different, that there is a separate rulebook for the postseason. There is not and the NBA has spent decades trying to clean-up this kind of nonsense. If that's playoff 

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