The Indiana Pacers are the best defensive team in the NBA right now. Hands down. Zach Lowe did a fantastic breakdown of what they are doing over at Grantland. The Pacers are long, everybody can defend, their guys move on a string — one moves then the next moves to cover — and it’s just good basketball. Not highlight-filled beautiful basketball, but winning basketball.
That defense execution extends to their reserves — with no starters on the floor the Pacers defense would still be middle of the pack in the NBA. No other NBA team can say that.
But Roy Hibbert wanted to make sure the bench guys were motivated Tuesday nigh so he offered a little incentive against the Bobcats, reports the Indy Star.
Keep the Bobcats in the 70s, Hibbert instructed the five reserve players checked in the game. It’s worth $100 per man.
“I’m a man of my word,” he assured them.
In a happy locker room following a 103-76 blowout, the highest-paid Pacer ($13.66 million this season) handed out large bills to three teammates, including one he couldn’t name, Dominic McGuire, who is playing on a 10-day contract. Jeff Pendergraph refused his reward. Ben Hansbrough must wait until Hibbert finds an ATM.
The Pacers are having fun and improving game to game. Paul George to me is an All-Star player who has stepped up with Danny Granger out. Then in a few weeks Granger will not be out anymore and the Pacers offense should improve while the defense remains the same (Granger is a good wing defender).
Hibbert continues to be in an offensive slump that he needs to shake, and there are other questions about the Pacers for the playoffs. But if you can defend you are in games and have a chance.
And if you can motivate the bench to defend, all the better. And Hibbert may have found a way.
During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”
Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.
The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.
Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:
“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.
That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.
There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.
Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.
That place turned out to be the Pacers.
Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.
That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.
Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.
Pacers fans delivered.
They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.
Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.
The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.
“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”
Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.