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 Spurs beat the Mavericks by 26 points on Friday night, a game all of the Dallas players would love to forget. But there was a funny moment for rookie big man Salah Mejri: after a dunk, he appeared to yell something at the San Antonio bench. Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan were completely nonplussed.
For what it’s worth, Mejri later tweeted that he wasn’t intending to be disrespectful.
Hassan Whiteside recorded a triple-double last night against the Hornets, and his tenth block was particularly impressive. He didn’t so much block Marvin Williams‘ layup attempt as pluck it out of the air with one hand. It almost looks like it should count as a block, rebound and steal at the same time.
The NBA world has taken notice of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. In Thursday night’s home game against the Knicks on TNT, Pistons players wore warmup shirts that read “FLINT NOW,” and the organization announced a $500,000 donation towards providing clean water for residents of the town.
Former Pistons great and general basketball legend Rasheed Wallace went even further, according to a tweet from his alma mater, the University of North Carolina:
Sheed obviously has a connection to Michigan, having played in Detroit for six years (including on the 2004 title team) and serving as an assistant coach for the Pistons during the 2013-14 season. This was an incredible gesture by him for the residents of a town that has been without drinkable water for a long time.
The Kings are a complete mess right now. After a loss to the Nets on Friday night, the team is reportedly considering firing head coach George Karl, who has been with the team for just about one year, and DeMarcus Cousins says they have “a bigger issue than the players.”
But, on the bright side, Cousins is still a monster on the court. During the Nets loss, he posted a triple-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, showing why he’s the one thing about this franchise that is going to be worth talking about long-term.