Critical Game 5 for Pacers, Hawks. If anybody cares to watch.

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What is the standard perception of the Atlanta Hawks vs. Indiana Pacers series? The NBA TV series (that’s where Game 5 will air Thursday)? I’m not just talking casual fans, I mean among basketball people?

Check out this exchange with Tony Parker, via the San Antonio Express News.

“I watch every game,” he said. “I’m a student of the game. I love watching the games. The playoffs, all the games are really good. You can always learn something.”

Even Atlanta-Indiana, widely regarded as the dud of the first round?

“Except that one,” he joked. “I turned that off.”

Thing is, it’s the closest first round series so far — 2-2, although every game has been decided by at least 11 points.

It just hasn’t been captivating television. The Pacers were in control of the first two games on their home court, when it shifted back to Atlanta Josh Smith was knocking down threes and the Hawks won a couple.

Let me try to entice you to watching this game with this sentence:

The team that wins Game 5 will win the series.

The key to Game 5 will be how the Pacers adjust to Johan Petro. Sort of. Larry Drew put Petro in the starting lineup for Game 3 and while he hadn’t been impressive (10 points in two games combined) it changed the matchups — Al Horford was now guarded by David West, and Josh Smith was matched up on on Paul George. For the last two games in Atlanta, the Hawks won those matchups and won the games.

Frank Vogel, the ball is in your court to adjust.

The Pacers need to win Game 5 — as a franchise they have struggled in Atlanta (13 straight losses now) and they don’t want to have to break that streak in Game 6 to stay alive. Indiana needs to get back to being the team that attacks, and gets the ball inside. They need a big night from Roy Hibbert.

The Hawks need to play like the Hawks at home, not the team that often settles for jumpers on the road.

Really, both of these teams settle when they struggle. So watch points in the paint, watch and see who is taking jumpers and you’ll see the team about to lose.

Well, that is if you watch at all.

Kevin Durant reverses course: Playing Thunder ‘just a regular game for me now’

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Kevin Durant said last season playing the Thunder is “never going to be a regular game for me.”

Now, the Warriors star, who’s questionable for tomorrow’s game in Oklahoma City, is singing a different tune.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

Durant:

Just a regular game for me now. I learned how to tune out the crowd. I learned how to tune out the bulls— and just play. Just keep at basketball, and I’ll be alright.

Durant is entitled to change his mind, and maybe that’s all that happened.

But this strikes me as yet another chasm between how Durant actually feels and how he wishes he felt – all while facing immense public scrutiny.

Durant spent eight years in Oklahoma City. Many of his former teammates, including Russell Westbrook, are still there. Durant might want to move on, but how could there not be a different feeling when playing the Thunder, especially in Oklahoma City?

Tony Allen: Russell Westbrook flopped to draw DeMarcus Cousins

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DeMarcus Cousins got ejected from the Pelicans’ win over the Thunder last night for elbowing Russell Westbrook in the head.

Afterward, Tony Allen came to his New Orleans teammate’s defense.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Did Cousins elbow Westbrook in the head? Yes. Did Westbrook create and/or embellish the contact? I don’t know.

Westbrook stuck his head in close, and he might have been baiting Cousins into a foul. But that doesn’t give Cousins carte blanche to commit a foul.

And even if Westbrook were baiting Cousins, the elbow still might have hurt. Westbrook’s reaction could have been genuine.

Did Cousins’ reputation as a flagrant fouler influence Westbrook’s strategy and how officials perceived the play? It’s much easier to convince me of that.

Ray Allen tells Orlando court he was ‘catfished’

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Retired NBA star Ray Allen believes he is a victim of “catfishing,” and has asked a court to throw out a case where he is accused of stalking someone he met online.

Allen says Bryant Coleman “pretended to be a number of attractive women interested in” him. In documents filed Tuesday, Allen acknowledges he communicated with who he thought were those women and that he eventually entered into an agreement with Coleman to not disclose details of those conversations.

Allen says that agreement was violated.

It was not clear if Coleman has an attorney, and a working phone number for him could not be found. Coleman told the court in a filing Monday that Allen is stalking him; in Allen’s request for an injunction, he says “the reverse is true.”

Klay Thompson interviewed about scaffolding on local news (video)

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Man-on-the-street interviews are a staple of local news.

They just don’t usually include Warriors star Klay Thompson.

But here’s Thompson – in town for Golden State’s win over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday – talking on Fox 5 New York about walking under scaffolding in the wake of a couple recent scaffolding collapses:

Thompson is the only NBA star who could do this interview so earnestly.