Paul George, LeBron James

Heat, Pacers both look for someone to knock down jumpers in Game 3

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Buckets.

You can break down the offensive sets in great detail and point to flaws. You can pull out all the advanced statistical analysis you want. All of those things are there to be in service to getting buckets — and sometimes that comes down to the Jeff Van Gundyism that it’s a make-or-miss league.

In Game 2, there were a lot of misses.

Part of that is the Pacers are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, the Heat one of the most aggressive in terms of traps and jumping passing lanes. That has an effect.

But both teams just missed some good looks in Game 2. Uncontested jumpers where just missed.

Both Miami and Indiana are in search of more buckets in a key Game 3 in Miami, with the series tied 1-1.

For Miami, that scoring can come from a couple logical places.

First, Chris Bosh needs to make some three pointers and space the floor better, maybe pull Roy Hibbert out of the paint some. Right now the Pacers have ignored Bosh out by the arc and he is 1-of-9 from three in this series (and according to Sports VU cameras, six of his eight missed threes are uncontested). Bosh has hit some jumpers from the top of the key and elbow areas (3-of-5 through two games) but by and large the Pacers are helping off him and not paying a price. He is 8-of-21 shooting for the series. Miami needs that to change.

The other thing Miami needs seems obvious but they haven’t consistently stuck with it this series — put the ball in LeBron James’ hands. As our own Dan Feldman pointed out at ESPN, through the first two games LeBron touched the ball once every 44 seconds, which sounds like a lot, but in the regular season he got a touch every 30 seconds he was on the court. When the ball is in LeBron’s hands good things tend to happen, Miami needs him to make those plays in more than just the last five minutes of he Game.

For the Pacers that has to start with Paul George and David West knocking down good looks. And Lance Stephenson continuing to (he has struggled in Miami). George started the last game 1-of-11 shooting before he got a concussion (from which he has been cleared to play), and finished 4-of-16. He was just 2-of-6 in the paint but the bigger problem was 0-of-5 from the midrange. George has to knock down his jumpers because those will be the cleanest looks he gets.

David West’s ability to knock down midrange shots and elbow jumpers is a big part of his offensive game, but he was just 2-of-8 form there.

What the Pacers have to keep doing is hitting threes — they are shooting 44.7 percent from beyond the arc for the series, making the Heat pay for their aggressive doubles and leaps into passing lanes. Miami had been all to often doubling from one pass away and the Pacers have made Miami pay on those.

Whichever teams gets its buckets is going to be up 2-1 by the end of Saturday night.

Monty Williams is back coaching with Team USA, ready to get back on NBA sidelines

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18:  Draymond Green #14 of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team drives against assistant coach Monty Williams of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team during a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on July 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Watching Monty Williams back on the court at the USA basketball camp/practices in Las Vegas, you could see he was at home. He’s easily the best 44-year-old defender on the planet — he went toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and the rest, was physical, and made them work for buckets. Then he’d instruct. He’s just a natural.

Back in February, Williams’ wife was killed in an auto accident. It devastated the devout family man, in ways it’s hard for us to understand who have never experienced it. He walked away from coaching the rest of the NBA season with the Thunder, and nobody questioned it for a second.

Now, after getting his feet wet with Team USA (where he is an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski), he told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman he is ready to get back on the sidelines.

“I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to; my kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back. I’m so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”

He is one of the better respected assistant coaches in the league, and a guy who will get another shot at a top spot someday. Soon. Can’t wait to see him back on the sidelines.

Ben Simmons says he plans to work on shooting, handles, getting stronger before camp

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons cheers from the bunch during the first half of the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Associated Press
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The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.

Players get their first taste of that at Summer League. The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons looked pretty good when he got that taste, but you can see the development that needs to go on as well.

He’s spending the time between now and the start of training camp working on his shooting and getting stronger, among other things, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.

New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.

Report: Warriors sign JaVale McGee to make-good training camp contract

JaVale McGee
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JaVale McGee is getting another shot in the NBA.

He played just 34 games off the bench for Dallas last season. He played 23 games the season before that due to injury.

But the Golden State Warriors are thin up front — Zaza Pachulia will get the bulk of the minutes at the five (when the Warriors use a traditional center), and there is the often-injured Anderson Varejao behind him. The Warriors could use another big. So they are giving McGee a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

This is a low-risk move by the Warriors, and it’s worth the gamble. Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of the guys the Warriors now have at the five. If it doesn’t work out — and the odds are it will not — they cut him, if it does they pay him a minimum deal.

I hope he makes it, just because the league is more fun when McGee is in it.

Russell Westbrook laughs off question about Kevin Durant

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant #35 discuss play during the first half against the Los Angeles ClipperLos Angeles Kingsat Staples Center on December 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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At some point, Russell Westbrook will sit down with members of the media and discuss Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, how he felt about the move, and how it impacted him both personally and professionally.

But not right now. He remains silent.

This Vine making its way around, where Westbrook laughs — probably at the question, although read into that whatever you want — when asked about Durant sums up where we are.

https://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js

In the full Facebook clip, Westbrook walks away, too. It’s his right. He can talk about it on his schedule.