Defense first. Physical. Intimidating because of that physicality. A tight-knit locker room. Better offense than you give them credit for. They talk enough smack to piss off the establishment. Not in a top 10 market but with a passionate fan base starved for a winner.
I just described the Seattle Seahawks.
I also just described the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers players watched the Super Bowl… well, like you they watched the first half pretty closely but by the second half were focused on the beer, chili and other people at the party. But the Pacers saw themselves in the Seahawks.
That’s what Paul George told the USA Today.
“We approach it as a physical team and we do everything from a toughness standpoint,” George said.
Then he said, “Like Seattle….
“Seattle’s got individual guys that stand out defensively, as we do, and as a group we put it all together,” George said of the Super Bowl champion Seahawks. “We’re a great comparison to that team because we do it from an individual standpoint and as a group.”
He’s not wrong.
The Pacers have long, athletic defenders on the wing like Paul George, Lance Stephenson and George Hill who will chase you off the three point line, and if you drive past them into the paint you run into the 7’2” wall that is Roy Hibbert. The Pacers allow only 18.3 three point attempts a game against them (fourth best in the NBA) and teams only shoot 33.2 percent on the shots they do take from there (second best in the NBA). The Pacers also have allowed the fewest field goal attempts in the league inside five feet and on those shots teams only shoot 52.3 percent, the lowest percentage allowed in the league.
It’s an interesting comparison George makes. We’ll see if their seasons end the same way.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.
Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.
The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.
I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.
That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.
Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:
Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.
But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.
On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.
To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.
The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.
It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.
TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).
Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.
But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.
So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.
But at least he has that opportunity.
Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.
Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.