Three games decided by a total of 15 points.
The Indiana Pacers have been close in this series. Very close. But when it came to end-of-game execution — and players who can execute under that kind of pressure — Chicago has it and Orlando struggles.
The Bulls are up 3-0 and the only question that remains is if they close out in Game 4 or go back to Chicago for Game 5.
Can the Pacers win one game?
The Pacers have done a good job keeping the Bulls offense in check this series. Paul George has done a respectable job on the Herculean task of guarding Derrick Rose, and they have thrown a variety of traps and different looks at him. Other Bulls players have not really stepped up, Carlos Boozer has been unimpressive and Luol Deng inefficient (Kyle Korver when he gets a look from three, is the exception as he is 7-of-8 from deep in the series). On that side of the ball, the Pacers have done what they set out to do.
But offense wasn’t why the Bulls had the best record in the NBA.
It’s defense, and Indiana has not been able to get its offense going against the stingy Bulls. Tyler Hansborough had a good first game draining midrange jumpers but as those got contested he has not hit them much. Pretty much every jumper Danny Granger takes is contested but he can hit some and has. Darren Collison has been taking contested floaters in the lane all series.
Maybe for a game some of those contested shots will start to fall. Maybe the Pacers will get enough points off these shots to get one win. It only seems fair after three hard losses in this series.
We all know how this movie is going to end. The only question is how much longer until the credits.
Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.
So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.
LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.
When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.
At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.
The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.
China has secured the ninth and final Olympic men’s basketball berth awarded this year.
China earned the bid to the 2016 Rio Games with a 78-67 win over the Philippines. 2016 first-round draft prospect Qi Zhou had 16 points and 14 rebounds, setting up the Olympics to be his big introduction to American fans.
Former NBA player Yi Jianlian won tournament MVP by averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.
This will be China’s ninth straight Olympic appearance.
The Philippines, who got 17 points from Andray Blatche in the final, will still go to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer with a chance to reach Rio.