Amir Johnson was getting dressed at the locker next to Justin Anderson when the veteran center looked up with a calm request.
“Tell the truth,” Johnson said with a smile.
That’s because Anderson was attempting to downplay his second-quarter run-in with Heat guard Dwyane Wade during the Sixers’ 128-108 Game 3 win Thursday in Miami (see game recap).
“It’s just a common foul. I’m not tripping about it,” Anderson said.
Anderson may not have wanted to make a big deal over the incident, but the foul was anything but common.
With 10:26 on the clock in the second quarter, Anderson locked up with Wade on the defensive end. Anderson pushed off as he attempted to front Wade in the post when the three-time champion latched onto the Sixers guard’s arm and flung him out of bounds. Anderson fell down into a couple photographers before getting up to confront Wade. Both players were separated and assessed taunting technical fouls for the play.
“I don’t remember,” Anderson said. “It was just a tough play for both of us. Just continue to move on. Next play.”
The skirmish was just one example of the heightened physicality in the series. Game 3 witnessed 56 total personal fouls and six technicals.
Despite playing just two minutes in the series prior to Thursday night, Anderson knew he was walking into a battle.
“They hit us in Game 1. They were physical from the start,” said Anderson, who had six points and four rebounds during nine minutes of action in Game 3. “I try to take every opportunity that I’m given. Watching the game for the first two games from the bench, I kind of recognized that the physicality was real high. I just mentally prepared myself that if I go in I’ve got to hit first or they’re going to hit me.”
So is it safe to say Anderson is the Sixers’ new enforcer?
“Like in hockey? Nah,” he said. “I just play hard. I play hard and make sure I do whatever I can to help our team win. That’s all that really matters.”