There’s a lot of finger pointing going on in Indiana. Both Paul George and David West complained about the officiating after Game 4 and suggested that had something to do with the Pacers wire-to-wire loss to the Heat.
(Didn’t hear Pacers players thinking the officiating was an issue when they got 22 more free throws in Game 1. They got to the line in that game because they were the aggressors — Sunday night Lebron James had 11 drives from outside 20 feet to inside 10 feet, scoring 10 points; Paul George had zero. In the series George has 26 attempts from three and 16 inside 8 feet of the rim. You get the idea.)
Frank Vogel is working to get his team focused on the series again, not the officials. Check out what Vogel said Tuesday, as reported by John Schuhmann at NBA.com.
His Tuesday morning message to his players before they flew back to Indianapolis was to “worry about what we can control. We know we’re going to have to play through adversity on the road in the playoffs. Our guys just need to put their focus on what we’re doing.”
“We can’t control calls. We got to control our turnovers, our shot selection, our passing, our defense.”
Bingo. The Pacers came into the playoffs with the best defense in the NBA in the regular season, allowing just 96.7 points per 100 possessions. Against the Heat — a team they were built to slow — they are allowing 111.5 per 100. They are turning the ball over more than they did in the regular season as well, a cardinal sin against Miami.
Bottom line, this isn’t on the officials.
I think George, West and the Pacers know that. They are just frustrated. Miami does that to teams. Vogel is just trying to get his team to focus for a night, but that has been a challenge all playoffs long (and into the end of the regular season) for the Pacers.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.