There comes a point in a seven-game series when the games get ugly. Teams have watched the film, lived the other team for a few games and they now anticipate everything. They know where the next pass is headed, the next cut is going. They can stop things before they happen.
We are there in the NBA finals. The first half of Game 4 was not pretty basketball.
The Lakers lead 45-42 at the half.
At this point it’s about which team can hit the contested shots, which team can win the scrambles. So far the Lakers have gotten good games from who you expect: Kobe Bryant has 12 points (on 5 of 8) and Pau Gasol with 12 (3 of 6).
The Celtics have had Paul Pierce, who has had his best game of the finals, with 12 points on 5 on 9 shooting.
The team that does the little things — wins on the boards, gets the loose balls, hits the tough shots. The Celtics need to play with some desperation and do that; they cannot afford to go down 3-1.
Khris Middleton has more expectations and more pressure on him after a breakout season in Milwaukee, followed by him getting him PAID this summer.
Well, he looked pretty good on this play against the Bulls, making the steal then throwing down despite Jimmy Butler‘s efforts to stop him.
Middleton finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting for the Bucks. However, Butler had the last laugh as he went off for 23 points on 12 shots and led the Bulls to the (meaningless) preseason win.
Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.
His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.
George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).
As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.