Carmelo Anthony has played 105 of his 108 minutes against Paul George and/or Roy Hibbert

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During the regular season, Paul George manned the perimeter and Roy Hibbert patrolled the interior to help the Pacers finish first in defensive rating. Only the Grizzlies, with Marc Gasol and Tony Allen, had two players place higher in Defensive Player of the Year voting than Indiana did with George (eighth) and Roy Hibbert (tenth).

But facing the inside-outside threat that is Carmelo Anthony, the league’s top scorer, has created a unique challenge for the Pacers.

Hibbert revealed a little insight into how Indiana is handling Melo. Via Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated:

“You see the minutes — Paul played 43, I played 40 — it’s the most I’ve played in playoffs,” said Hibbert. “Coach said whenever Melo was in the game, me and Paul were going to be out there. When Melo checks back in, me and Paul go back in. We want to crowd him and make things as difficult as possible for him.”

Melo has played 96:30 against both Hibbert and George, 7:42 against just George and another 0:50 against just Hibbert. That leaves only 2:43 that Melo has played in this series with neither George nor Hibbert on the floor.

George swarms Melo near the arc, preventing him from attempting 3-pointers. Just 14 percent of Melo’s field-goal attempts in this series have been 3-pointers, down from 28 percent in the regular season.

Hibbert bothers Melo in the paint, where Melo’s shooting percentage has fallen from 51 in the regular season to 35 percent in this series.

With nowhere else to turn, Melo is taking a higher percentage of his shots from mid-range – a definite win for the Pacers. Melo’s scoring rate shows how large the impact of Indiana’s defensive tandem has been:

  • Melo against Hibbert and George: 69 points in 96:30
  • Melo against one or neither: 11 points in 11:19

How should Melo counter? Keep plugging.

He’s still averaging 26.7 points per game in this series, and even if he’s shooting just 40 percent when facing both Hibbert and George, other Knicks aren’t better equipped to score on the Pacers’ defense.

And maybe Melo can win a war of attrition. George is used to playing so much, but Hibbert is not. Maybe Melo can outlast at least one of the two, more likely Hibbert, and finally get some clean looks at the basket.

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: ‘I expect to beat them’

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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.

PBT Extra Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

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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.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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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.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

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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.