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.
The Miami Heat took until the final moments on Tuesday night to beat the Detroit Pistons, but it was worth it. With just a handful of games left to play, the Heat need to stave off the Chicago Bulls for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Thanks to a tip at the buzzer by Hassan Whiteside, they’re one step closer to achieving that goal.
The play came with just seconds left in the fourth quarter. James Johnson missed a shot with six seconds to go, and the Heat grabbed the rebound. Goran Dragic then tried his hand, but he couldn’t get it to go, either.
That’s when Whiteside came back with a tip at the buzzer that ended the game.
Miami now sits at 36-38, a game above the Bulls for the No. 8 seed.
Whiteside, meanwhile, is never going to wash that hand again:
Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was a pretty consistent player in the NBA. Save for his final injury-laden seasons and the lockout year of 2011-12, Bryant played in no fewer than 65 regular season games in a single season.
Coaches also had no reason or want to ask Bryant — a notorious worker — to sit out in order to rest. That wasn’t really on the menu, and Bryant knew that.
Speaking to ESPN’s First Take, Bryant said no coach really asked him to ever take a rest, “I’ve never been approached by a coach and asked to rest.”
Bryant remarked that he took queues from Michael Jordan during tough stretches of the season — back-to-backs or four games in five night scenarios — where he could switch his game up, floating from perimeter to post, in order to save energy during those matchups.
Bryant also said during the same interview that he understands the complexity of the modern game, and that players like LeBron James deserve to take a rest if they’ve earned it.
“LeBron has done so much for the game. He’s earned the opportunity to take a rest,” said Bryant.
The debate on this subject will continue, it seems.
New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis is the future of the franchise, so any time he’s upended and nearly lands on his noggin it’s a cause for concern. To say the least.
That’s what happened on Monday night, as Porzingis got turned upside down during a play near the basket during a game against the Detroit Pistons.
Porzingis was OK on the play, and Detroit big man Andre Drummond did his best to help catch him so nothing too scary happened.
Still, Knicks president Phil Jackson had a pretty hilarious reaction to the whole thing. I guess that’s what happens when you watch your basketball life flash before your eyes.
Porzingis was unhurt and played a full 37 minutes. New York beat Detroit, 109-95.
Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler is a smart dude. He’s spent years of offseason work turning himself into a max-level player, and that shows he knows not only how to work but how to attack the game of basketball.
He’s also smart enough to know he shouldn’t go poking the bear when it comes to two future Hall of Fame players in LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
When asked whether the Cleveland Cavaliers star or the Golden State Warriors scorer was the toughest matchup in the NBA, Butler made sure he wasn’t adding any kind of blackboard material to rile up either player.
The best way to defend LeBron or Durant: don’t make them angry.
Smart move, Jimmy.