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2014 NBA Playoffs: Hawks-Pacers scuffle brings league's 'vicinity of bench' rule back in question

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The NBA will have to rule on Friday whether or not Paul George and Rasual Butler left the bench area during the altercation by Mike Scott and George Hill. Both players could be facing a one-game suspension.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Right before halftime of Game 6, Atlanta's Mike Scott and Indiana's George Hill were involved in a minor scuffle in front of Indiana's bench. Both players were issued technical fouls but replay showed that Paul George and Rasual Butler took a step or two onto the court. Here is an animated .gif of the sequence via SBNation.com.

Scotthill_medium

SI.com's Ben Golliver quotes the NBA rule stating that players must stay in the vicinity of the bench area during an altercation:

Rule No. 12, Section VII Item C. of the NBA's rulebook states: "During an altercation, all players not participating in the game must remain in the immediate vicinity of their bench. Violators will be suspended, without pay, for a minimum of one game and fined up to $50,000."

Now it will be up to the league to decide whether or not George and Butler are in violation. Obviously a one-game suspension for George in Game 7 would be a huge blow to the Pacers. It wouldn't be the first time that a big name player got suspended for a deciding game. Back in 2007 Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were both suspended for leaving the "vicinity of the bench" after Robert Horry committed a flagrant foul to Steve Nash.

That was a long time ago and the league was very sensitive to such actions at that time. For what its worth I hated that decision in 2007 that basically decided a playoff series and I don't really think that George, or anyone should be suspended for leaving the bench unless they add to the altercation. None of the Pacers on the bench did that.

Interesting that the man that helped levy the suspensions in the Suns-Spurs series was Stu Jackson. He weighed in on Twitter after the completion of Game 6.

Frank Vogel downplayed the situation after the game saying only that he wasn't concerned until he heard something from the league.

"Not concerned about any suspensions until we hear something." He added, "I don't imagine there would be."

Most likely there won't be, but it could cause the Pacers some uneasy moments on Friday nonetheless.