The Indiana Pacers came out of Game 1 — where they led until the final minute and almost pulled the upset — thinking that they can play with the Chicago Bulls.
But can they? The Bulls can play much better than they did in game one — look for them to focus on tightening the pick-and-roll defense (especially when Tyler Hansbrough is setting the pick) and for Derrick Rose to be in attack mode early.
The Bulls took the Pacers best shot — literally, the Pacers shot lights out all game (10-of-17 from three, for example) and put up 113.7 points per 100 possessions, 13 more than the Bulls gave up on average — and one has to wonder if the Pacers can play any better. And if that was their best and they lost, what hope do they have?
The Pacers hinted they are going to start aggressively doing what the Bulls will see from here on out in the playoffs — trapping and doubling Derrick Rose to get the ball out of his hands.
We’ll see what kind of success they have — it’s easier said than done to trap Rose. But if they do the Bulls are going to need other players to step up in a way they did not in Game 1. Carlos Boozer had a quiet 12 points and he has to step up, as does Luol Deng who had a couple big baskets late but not much else. The Bulls bench also needs to contribute more.
Put simply, the Derrick Rose show is one of the best going in the NBA, but ask Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant — or just about anyone else — if you can do it all on your own or if you need a real team effort.
Another key will be how this game is called — both teams want to be physical on defense, but Rose’s ability to attack and draw contact and get to the line could swing this game. Like it did the first one, where Rose alone got to the line more than the entire Pacers team.
The Bulls are going to defend hard
Last spring during the NBA playoffs, Warriors coach Steve Kerr did not hesitate to criticize President Donald Trump. Stephen Curry also has taken issue with the president and some of his policies.
Saturday, the Warriors were going to discuss an invitation to Trump’s White House — a tradition in many sports where the champion is invited to meet the president and do a photo-op — but on Friday Curry said he would vote no. With that, Trump pulled his invitation.
Saturday the Warriors released a statement.
“While we intended to meet as a team at the first opportunity we had this morning to collaboratively discuss a potential visit to the White House, we accept that President Trump has made it clear that we are not invited. We believe there is nothing more American than our citizens having the right to express themselves freely on matters important to them. We’re disappointed that we did not have an opportunity during this process to share our views or have open dialogue on issues impacting our communities that we felt would be important to raise.
“In lieu of a visit to the White House, we have decided that we’ll constructively use our trip to the nation’s capital in February to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion — the values that we embrace as an organization.”
That’s classier than some of the responses from others around the NBA to Trump.
The Warriors’ David West explained why the team was leaning toward backing out of going to the White House, and the players’ opposition to Trump.
There would be a number of charitable things the Warriors could do in the area, and the team’s high-profile would draw attention to whatever they choose to focus on. It’s a good move. Try to rise above this silly fracas over a photo-op and do some good.
Alan Williams is a guy who worked hard for his spot in the NBA. The UCSB alum started with a 10-day contract, then parlayed that into a Summer League deal where he shined. That evolved into a full season contract with the Suns last year, and they liked what they saw enough to give him a three-year deal this summer (for $17.4 million total).
But now the fan favorite is going to miss at least the start of the season due to a knee injury, reports Chris Haynes and Marc Spears of ESPN.
How much time Williams will miss will depend on the degree of the tear and the course of treatment, but he’s going to be out for training camp and the start of the season.
Williams was already going to be in a fight for minutes on a team fairly deep in the frontcourt with Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, Alex Len, Tyson Chandler, Anthony Bennett, and Jared Dudley. This setback does not help his cause.
Enes Kanter loved playing in Oklahoma City.
Which made the fact he was traded to the Knicks for Carmelo Anthony difficult. Kanter had been through a lot, his political stance against the ruling party in his native Turkey led to his family being forced to publicly disown him (and his father being arrested and questioned multiple times), plus his passport being revoked while he was in Europe as Turkey tried to force him to return (where he would have been instantly arrested). He has said on multiple occasions that the people of Oklahoma City, and the Thunder organization, provided him a home when his native one was yanked away from him.
He said that again in a thank you and goodbye video to the people of Oklahoma City.
Kanter said he had “no hard feelings. I understand it’s a business.”
He also urged the now-stacked Thunder to go out and beat the Warriors.
Well, that escalated quickly.
Carmelo Anthony wanted away from the Knicks badly enough that he relented in recently and added Cleveland and Oklahoma City to Houston as places he would waive his no-trade clause for. From there, it took almost no time for Oklahoma City and New York to work out a trade that sent Anthony to the Thunder for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and a second-round pick.
NBA Twitter flipped out on the news. And that started with one of ‘Melo’s new teammates.
Or, is it…