Update: Garnett suspended for Game 2.
Late in Boston's Game 1 win at the TD Banknorth Garden, Paul Pierce collapsed in front of the Heat bench after apparently straining his shoulder on a pass attempt. It looked quite serious, as it does any time a player hits the ground a few beats after contact is made (as long as Carmelo Anthony isn't involved, I suppose). Play stopped, and Garnett was the first to Pierce's side. Richardson quickly joined him, apparently concerned for Pierce. Garnett nudged Q upon his arrival, and the pair exchanged words. Other players from both teams converged on the scene, basically in the lap of a few fans stationed between the Heat bench and the media table.
Joakim Noah: Kevin Garnett a 'Dirty Player'
Richardson somehow ended up behind Garnett as pushing and shoving commenced, and Garnett swung a high elbow as he was pulled from the scuffle. The elbow appeared to connect with Richardson's head, though Q didn't show any ill effects.
The referee crew -- Dick Bavetta, Ed Malloy and Joe DeRosa -- reviewed video of the fracas for several minutes once things calmed down, and Garnett was ejected for the final 40 seconds. Boston's Glen Davis also picked up a technical foul for his role in the shoving match.
The league has been fairly consistent in its punishment of intentionally swung elbows. Dwight Howard was suspended for Game 6 of Orlando's first-round series against Philadelphia last April for swinging an elbow at Sixers center Samuel Dalembert's head. However, the league might decide the Game 1 ejection, all 40 seconds of it, is punishment enough. We should find out soon enough.
Pierce, by the way, got up shortly after hitting floor, and apparently had no ill effects from the shoulder strain. In the 2008 finals, Pierce required a wheelchair to get off the floor in Game 1 after an apparent knee injury. He returned minutes later to finish the game and looked pretty healthy in the rest of the series, a 4-2 Celtics win.