Atlanta Hawks guard and reigning 6th Man of the Year award winner Jamal Crawford is entering the last year of the 7 year, $55.44 million contract, but he’s not letting contract negotiations become a distraction to him.
“Give all praise to Norman Powell with his energy, his athleticism, his passion, just everything he brought to us this series.”
That was Kyle Lowry talking about what his Raptor Norman Powell, who put up a career playoff best 25 points in the Raptors’ Game 5 win. Powell played good defense on Khris Middleton and drained some deep threes to help Toronto pull away in this one. Lowry was so impressed after the game at a press conference he told the media to ask Powell questions, not him.
Oh, and Powell threw down some huge dunks, too. Just check out the video.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The questions started less than an hour after the Indiana Pacers season officially ended.
Nobody wants to learn the answers more than George.
“If we want to win, (Cleveland is) a team that we have to work toward stacking up against,” he said following Sunday’s 106-102 loss to the defending champion Cavaliers. “At some point, if we want to be serious as a team, we’ve got to look at how we can match up against them.”
Obviously, that starts with George. At 26, the four-time All-Star has already played in two conference finals, won an Olympic gold medal – and been eliminated in the playoffs by LeBron James‘ team four of the last six years. George is signed through next season and Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird has already promised George would get a max deal.
If George makes an all-NBA team, as expected, the value of that deal could jump by roughly $75 million.
That’s a lot of money to leave on the table if he decides to test free agency when his contract expires following the 2017-18 season.
But there was enough concern that George might go anyway that there were rumors he could be dealt at the trade deadline. And lingering uncertainty could affect what the Pacers do this offseason and there will certainly be more trade speculation about George, with his hometown Los Angeles Lakers likely in any discussion.
So far, George isn’t saying anything about his thoughts.
“I’m not even at that point yet,” he said.
The one thing Indiana can’t afford – getting nothing in return for their best player.
Bird declined to discuss George on Monday while in New York to deliver the Pacers’ bid to host the 2021 All-Star Game. Bird’s problem is this: He can’t do much until the NBA draft, which is two months away, or until free agency opens in July.
That gives George roughly two months to produce an answer.
While George hasn’t said what he wants to see from the organization, he seemed to enjoy being reunited with longtime friend and 2010 draft mate Lance Stephenson. And re-signing Teague may help, too.
But will it be enough to convince George the Pacers are moving in the right direction?
“You take a year like last year, with that group, we felt like if you added a couple pieces to that group we’d have something again,” George said. “We’ll see what moves the team makes and how it stacks up going forward.”
Teague has repeatedly told reporters all season how much he’s enjoyed playing in his hometown. He was the only player on the Pacers roster to start all 86 games this season.
Bird made it clear last summer after acquiring Teague that the Pacers were trying to sign him to a contract extension. But there’s still no deal and now Teague is on the verge of becoming a free agent and getting a lucrative contract because of changes to the salary cap.
“I love Indiana, man, you know me – born and raised. I’ve got the tattoos on my arm. I’ve wanted to play for the Pacers my whole life,” he said.
Many expected the Pacers to be one of the top four teams in the East after making so many moves last season.
Instead, under first-year coach Nate McMillan, Indiana never really got in sync with the exception of a seven-game winning streak at midseason and the five-game winning streak that got them into the playoffs. He doesn’t anticipate going anywhere this offseason.
“I do have a contract for next season,” he said.
TURNING THE CORNER
The Cavs’ series exposed one significant flaw in Myles Turner‘s game – strength. Turner got shoved around inside through each of the first three games before finishing the series with a flurry Sunday.
McMillan made it clear even before Indiana’s final playoff game that Turner must get stronger so he can be a more physical player next season.
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This game was never in doubt. Much like the entire first-round series.
That led to the Warriors putting up a historic 45 points in the first quarter, tying for the most points in an NBA playoffs first quarter ever. The Warriors were up 23 after one, and never looked back on their way to a 128-103 Game 4 rout, completing the sweep of Blazers.
There’s not much to analyze here, this game is was similar to so many games over the past couple seasons where the Warriors overwhelmed their opponents. Portland fought, but this was not going to be their game or their series. Here are some highlights.
Damian Lillard had 34 points for Portland.
It may have been a disappointing ending to the season for Portland, but the team found a center late this season in Jusuf Nurkic who balances out what Lillard and C.J. McCollum bring on the outside. The Blazers have to figure out how to become a better defensive team this summer, but they took a step forward after the All-Star break that they can build on.
The Warriors will get some rest before taking on the Jazz or Clippers in the next round.
The Wizards knocked down Atlanta. They didn’t stop the Hawks.
Millsap and Atlanta showed plenty of fight, topping Washington 111-101 in Game 4 Monday to tie their first-round series 2-2 after falling behind 2-0.
Have the Hawks seized meaningful momentum? History says no.
Teams that have won the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home then lost the next two on the road have won 81% of the time. The Wizards’ regular-season superiority still speaks loudly, and up to two more home games – starting with Game 5 Wednesday – also help.
Still, credit Atlanta for making the series competitive after digging such a big hole.
Millsap (19 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals) soundly outplayed Markieff Morris (nine points on 3-of-10 shooting, -10) in the latest round of their personal feud. Millsap also got plenty of help with seven Hawks scoring double digits.
Kent Bazemore (16 points, seven assists and three steals) played meaningful defense and hit a couple big shots. Jose Calderon (10 points, five assists, +29 in 20 minutes) provided a huge spark. Dwight Howard (16 points and 15 rebounds) asserted himself for the first time this series. Taurean Prince (11 points on 5-of-7 shooting) picked his spots well. Dennis Schroder (18 points on 6-of-15 shooting) had his ups and downs. Tim Hardaway Jr. (15 points) at least offset some of his defensive shortcomings.
This was a total team win.
Washington, on the other hand, got little outside its starting backcourt. Bradley Beal (32 points) thrived, and John Wall (22 points and 10 assists) was still good in an off-by-his-standards performance. But the Wizards crumbled when either sat – especially with both on the bench in the late third/early fourth quarters. Erasing those few minutes with staggering would’ve helped, though it wouldn’t have been the answer tonight.
This has become a far less certain series than Washington hoped, but the Wizards don’t need a wild fix. They just need their top players to play better. Maybe going home will help.