Indiana was built to have advantages against the Miami Heat but you wouldn’t have known it watching Game 3.
In the second half of Game 3 Indiana went away from getting the ball to David West either at the elbow or on the block, plus they went completely away from posting up Roy Hibbert at all. Instead, the Pacers went pick-and-roll heavy with the erratic Lance Stephenson, who was too often forced to the sideline and away from the paint. Indiana stopped executing when the Heat cranked up the defensive pressure. Plus, the defense that is the Pacers hallmark went away.
Bottom line, the Pacers were built to stay big when the Heat go small and beat them, in Game 3 the Heat went small and won.
Indiana has to flip that script in Game 4, or this series is going to be short.
For Miami, the key is defense — they played their best defensive game of the playoffs in the last 30 minutes of Game 3. Their trapping, pressure, turnover-forcing defense was back and they had the easy transition buckets to show for it.
But the Heat haven’t brought that consistently in the playoffs. They need to start because both teams out of the West are playing at a higher level than the Heat have been up until those 30 minutes. Miami needs to sustain that level of play.
They also need the healthy, attacking Dwyane Wade — he is averaging 24.3 points on 62 percent shooting this series. That Wade with LeBron James makes the Heat difficult to stop, no matter what Chris Bosh is doing (which has not been much).
Expect a Pacers team playing with a sense of desperation — they need to win, their season is on the line.
The question is can they execute at the level they need to, can they stick with the game plan?
The Lakers might not even have a first-round pick this year.
Thanks to the ill-fated Steve Nash sign-and-trade, the Lakers owe the 76ers (via the Suns) a top-three-protected first-rounder. As the No. 2 seed in the lottery, the Lakers have just better than a coin-flip chance of landing in the top three and keeping the pick.
But if the Lakers land the top selection, they might not engage in the Ben Simmons-or-Brandon Ingram debate.
Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports:
Is this a good idea? The answer, as usual, is it depends on what they could get.
There’s a logic to adding another young player whose peak would align with Lakers’ core. D'Angelo Russell (20), Julius Randle (21) and Jordan Clarkson (23) aren’t ready to win. It might be better to add someone who will enter his prime when they do.
But the Lakers’ market and prestige make them a popular free-agent destination, and free agents value winning. Moderate improvements that would stick many teams on the mediocrity treadmill could open the door for the Lakers signing a star.
The Lakers should weigh these factors and trade offers logically and decide what to do if they get a top pick.
Of course, there are other factors. Jim Buss faces a somewhat-self-imposed deadline for contending. To the person in charge, what’s best for the franchise’s long-term outlook might not matter as much as a potential quick fix.
How tall is Kevin Durant?
He’s listed at 6-foot-9, but his teammates have guessed everything from 6-foot-10 to 7-foot-3.
Durant, via Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal:
“For me, when I’m talking to women, I’m 7 feet,” he said. “In basketball circles, I’m 6-9.”
“But really, I’ve always thought it was cool to say I’m a 6-9 small forward,” he said. “Really, that’s the prototypical size for a small forward. Anything taller than that, and they’ll start saying, ‘Ah, he’s a power forward.’ ”
This mirrors Kevin Garnett, who Flip Saunders once called “6-foot-13” because Garnett didn’t want to get pigeonholed as a center.
But most height fudging in the NBA has players trying to be listed as taller. Read Herring’s piece for a fun look at the hijinks.
The Heat haven’t gotten past the Raptors. The Cavaliers haven’t toppled the Hawks, for that matter.
But can you imagine a Cleveland-Miami conference finals?
LeBron James can.
LeBron, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
“I think naturally of course. That’s since I’ve came back,” James said. “It’d be great to play against those guys in the postseason. Throughout my whole career, I’ve always wanted to go against (Dwyane) Wade in a playoff series. We’ve always talked about it even before we became teammates in ’10. It’s not been heavy on my mind but it’s crossed my mind throughout my whole career.”
LeBron doesn’t realize how bad of an idea this is, which is what makes it such a bad idea.
It isn’t that the Heat are playing better than Toronto right now – though they are. It isn’t that the Heat are a tougher matchup for Cleveland than Toronto – though they are, routing the Cavs twice in three regular-season games (one of which LeBron didn’t play).
It’s that facing the Heat would bring a ridiculous level of drama to the series, and LeBron’s teammates are more equipped to face the Raptors and the fewer distractions that would come with that matchup.
LeBron just wants to be on the court with his friend, Dwyane Wade – with him or against him. I think LeBron can handle that, enjoy that and still produce.
But it undermines his teammate’s focus when LeBron does something like chat with Wade during halftime when they’re trying to prepare for the second half. It can bother teammates when even more attention than usual is placed on LeBron, who’d be THE storyline in a matchup with his old team.
If the Cavs had a choice – and they obviously don’t – they should avoid all that.
But the way the teams are playing, LeBron will probably get his wish.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had a dumb idea about the Sonics.
So, he posted it to Twitter:
Yes, because this is how the NBA decides where to place teams.
Seattle’s City Council voted not to sell part of a street to Chris Hansen, essentially blocking a new arena – which is probably for the best. Why build a stadium when you might not even get a team? NBA commissioner Adam Silver says the league isn’t expanding anytime soon, and no franchise appears imminent to move.
But a petition could change all that do nothing – except rile up Wilson’s fans, no matter how detached the idea is from reality.