Physicality is part of the NBA Playoffs each year, with a notable change in approach and playing style. However, there has been an uptick in one particular area of the postseason, and that is with shots to the “midsection” of players. One prominent instance happened when Dillon Brooks was ejected from a game for striking LeBron James between the legs and, just days later, James Harden was given a Flagrant-2 foul and an ejection for smacking Royce O’Neale during live action.
On Monday, the Philadelphia 76ers put together an inspired effort in the absence of Joel Embiid, putting the pressure on the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. While the close-fought nature of the game was the major story, Jayson Tatum joined the ranks of players who were in a great deal of pain after contact to the groin area, as PJ Tucker struck him during a transition play with approximately five minutes to play.
Both benches clear as P.J. Tucker appears to hit Jayson Tatum in the groin pic.twitter.com/hOA1leBxXY
— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) May 2, 2023
All indications are that Tucker’s arm movement was not intentionally meant for Tatum, and there was no official review or penalty for Tucker as a result. It was clear that Tatum did not appreciate the contact, but he was able to stay in the game (after a timeout), mitigating the damage in this particular instance. That, of course, is a positive takeaway, but this is a trend that I think everyone would prefer come to an end very soon.