The Pacers are off to a perfect 7-0 start after Saturday night’s win over the Nets, and the reason for it may have more than a little to do with how things ended for the team last season.
Indiana pushed the eventual champion Heat to seven games in the astern Conference Finals, before ultimately being eliminated on the road in the final game of the series.
The Pacers don’t want to have home court advantage to blame a season later, so the goal from day one has been to make sure to pile up as many wins as possible in order to secure the top seed in the playoffs. And it’s a goal which the team’s players and coaches had no trouble discussing after their latest victory.
From Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:
“We believe in this locker room that we can get the No. 1 seed and we started the year with that attitude,” said Pacers forward David West after registering 18 points and eight rebounds. “The fact that Game 7 of the conference finals wasn’t in our home building we felt was the difference in a trip to the Finals, and we’re going to do everything in our power to get a Game 7 in our building. And we have to start from the beginning of the season.” …
Continuity and stability have huge value in this league, especially early in the season. When that is in place, a team can start talking about playoff seeds six months before it will really matter.
“If we’re going to have playoff success, having home-court advantage would give us an edge,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “We were 8-1 at home in the playoffs last year. To lose a Game 7 on the road, that’s a tough environment. We’re trying for that No. 1 seed. We’re going for it.”
It seems silly to be focused on the playoffs when the season is just a couple of weeks old, but it’s clear that Indiana has its eyes on the prize, even at this very early stage — and that may be the reason behind their fast start, while certain other teams in the East haven’t seemed as focused.
Andre Drummond had a breakaway on Sunday against the Boston Celtics. Fans in Detroit should have been in for a treat from their franchise center — a former NBA Dunk Contest participant — but instead they got something worth of Shaqtin’ A Fool.
Unfortunately for Drummond, the result of the one man fastbreak was a blown dunk, a ball that went sky high, and a sheepish look from the Pistons center.
The Dallas Mavericks traded Andrew Bogut to the Philadelphia 76ers at the deadline for big man Nerlens Noel. Bogut, 32, was never expected to stay in Philly and he should be bought out soon.
There has been some speculation about what contender Bogut might be looking to join, or which might come calling. Due to CBA rules, Bogut could feasibly re-join the Golden State Warriors. Instead, it appears Bogut is expected to head the other direction and sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Bogut would be Cleveland’s second center on the roster alongside Tristan Thompson, who slid over to the 5 full-time this season. The Australian big man would also be the second former Maverick to join the Cavaliers, as PG Deron Williams reportedly intends to sign with Cleveland as well.
Bogut has been less effective in limited minutes this season than he has in years past. While Bogut is still a good passer and rebounder, he has not been as productive on offense than prior seasons. That could largely be due to Dallas’ poor start, or because of nagging injuries. He suffered calf, knee, and hamstring injuries this season with Dallas, and it will still be a gamble for Cleveland to rely upon Bogut for a playoff run.
However, the Cavaliers could simply rest Bogut extensively, integrate him into their system, and have him ready for a second championship push through the Eastern Conference.
We’re still waiting for the move to be made official, but it appears as though LeBron James & Co. are bolstering themselves for the postseason.
Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic was whistled for a foul on Sunday night while trying to grab a rebound over PJ Tucker. That came as a surprise to Nurkic, who had actually lost two teeth on the play and went to point out that fact to officials.
The play came midway through the fourth quarter, with Tucker underneath the basket and Nurkic standing behind him in the paint. Toronto’s Patrick Patterson missed a long 3-pointer, leading to a battle for the ball down low.
Nurkic was called for a push in the back as the two went up, but Tucker threw his arm and hit Nurkic on the left side of his face. That knocked out two of Nurkic’s teeth:
The Blazers big man recovered his teeth — which were false and part of a dental implant called a bridge — and handed them to Portland head trainer Geoff Clark.
But have no fear: just a few hours after the Blazers lost to the Raptors, 112-106, Nurkic had his teeth put back in by a dentist.
Future NBA Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett was known during his playing days for his exceptional conditioning. The athletic power forward was in a full sweat by tip-off, and constantly talking on both offense and defense.
So how did he do it?
According to JJ Redick, Garnett used to sing while running as a method of normalizing talking during a game. The practice was apparently modeled after Beyonce’s ability to dance and sing at the same time.
“One time I saw her working out, and she was doing her dances and she was singing while she was doing her dancing,” Garnett said to Redick. “So then I’m thinking to myself, maybe I should run and sing at the same time. So in the offseason, I would go to Malibu and I would go down to the beach, and when I run on the beach I would be like ‘Lalala lalala lalala,’ while I’m running. So then, when I get on the court and I’m getting back on defense and I’m talking on defense, I don’t get tired.”
That’s ingenious, and the kind of clever tactics you’d expect to come from a HOFer like Garnett.