After a decade in the NBA, Shane Battier blew it off as mere bluster, the notion of the Eastern Conference being more physical.

"I didn't think it was real," he said as the Miami Heat prepared for this latest challenge against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals.

But now, after six months in the East following 10 seasons in the Western Conference with the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets?

"Yeah," he said. "It's real."

And for more than Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel complaining about flopping, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra seething about headhunting, and Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo at the start of this series urging that Heat players have "got to hit the deck."

"It's much more of a physical tempo. I guess 'tempo' is the right word," he said. "In the Western Conference, it's much more free-flowing. The philosophies are more open, so, as a result, I think there's less physical play."