Paul George still doesn’t like playing the four — he’s not backing down from his opinion, reiterated after he had to go up against Anthony Davis in the Pacers’ preseason opener.
But after a “clarification” meeting with team president Larry Bird and coach Frank Vogel, George now wants to be clear he’s on board with the team’s new direction.
Yes, those two positions seem at odds, but that’s what George said after Pacers’ practice Monday. From Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.
“I mean, there was clarification on what we’re (doing) going forward,” George added later. “That’s what it was, just clarification.”
When asked if the “clarification” meant changes to his role, George said: “We’re going to still stick with it, see how it works.”
Then, when quizzed if he’s OK with that, George responded: “I’m a part of this team.”
The Pacers transitioning to a team that wants to play small and fast — their preseason game against the Pelicans had 109 possessions. That’s going to mean going small a lot and trying to force teams to match up with them, and in the modern NBA that is the right direction to move. Against much of the Eastern Conference it should work well, but against some teams and matchups — say MVP candidate Davis and the Pelicans — George will find himself in a very difficult spot.
George is not comfortable at the four yet, especially with the physical nature of trying to defend and box out some bigger, stronger guys. George has spent his entire career on the perimeter, it’s a tough transition. But he’s going to have a lot of success this season at the four if he can stay healthy and as he adjusts. He just has to fully buy in and do it.
The Pacers play the Pistons on Tuesday, a game where George will be matched up against Ersan Ilyasova. That’s a place George can have a little more success and feel better about this.
How quickly it seems the Warriors went from everybody’s second favorite team, the team you wished your team played like, to “they got lucky.”
A lot of people are down on the Warriors for some reason heading into this season, and I talk about that in the return of PBT Extra for the season. This is the first of 30 “Bold Prediction” previews looking at every NBA team, but Jenna Corrado and I decided to start it all off out West with the defending champs.
Did they get lucky with health? Yes. So did every other team ever to win an NBA title. This was the best team in the NBA last season, they brought back their entire young core, and they are the bar that needs to be cleared if any other team is going to make the NBA Finals out of the West. And I’m not convinced any other team can clear that bar.
(Keep an eye out on for me on Twitter as I ask for your bold predictions on teams for future PBT Extras.)
Lance Stephenson had a rough outing in his first couple preseason games as a Clipper — 2-of-14 shooting while looking lost and confused in the offense. Somewhere, Charlotte Hornet fans are nodding their heads. To be fair, plenty of Clippers have looked out of sorts as they try to incorporate their new depth into the rotation. That’s what the preseason is about, and nobody should be reading much into the results.
Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers isn’t reading much into a couple off shooting nights. After the Clippers second preseason game (a loss to the Raptors), he said he didn’t bring Stephens in to be a jump shooter spacing the floor. Rather, he wants him to be the playmaker for the second unit, as reported by Ben Blotch at the Los Angeles Times.
“Lance is not a great shooter,” Rivers said. “He’s going to be a streaky guy. That’s who he is. I don’t look at Lance as a scorer; I look at Lance as a guy to create plays, and I think he’ll do that for us.”
How the Clippers’ second unit functions with Stephenson, Jamal Crawford and Josh Smith is going to be one of the challenges for Rivers this season. Certainly the Clippers got a talent upgrade this summer, but all three of those guys are most comfortable with the ball in their hands in more isolation sets creating for themselves first. Getting those guys to meld into a unit will be a challenge.
With that, the Clippers are counting on the Indiana version of Stephenson, not the one who struggled in Charlotte last season. The Clipper bench will be improved this season (it couldn’t be much worse), but how much better will depend on which Stephenson shows up most nights for the Clippers.
We said this before tonight, but we’ll say it again: The Miami Heat will be fun to watch this season.
One of their summer pickups was high-flying Gerald Green, a guy who is a perfect fit off the bench for their up-tempo system. In the Heat’s first preseason game Sunday, Green put on a little show for the Heat fans with this steal and slam.
Green 12 points to go with five rebounds and looked good for the Heat on the night.
Miami is going to be a lot of fun to watch this season (if they can stay healthy).
They’ve got athletic, active players who want to run, who move off the ball, and they have good passers. For example, watch Chris Bosh go between the legs to Dwyane Wade in the Heat’s preseason game Sunday.
Bosh had 14 points, and Wade had a dozen, but Charlotte won the exhibition.