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Paul George’s view now on final shot: “I thought he had a good look… but I was selfish in the moment

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“In situations like that, I’ve got to get the last shot.”

That was Paul George just after the Pacers lost Game 1 to the Cleveland Cavaliers, after C.J. Miles clean look at a game-winner fell short.

Except if you watch the video of the play (above) the look Miles got was way better than any George would have been able to create. So after looking at the tape, does George feel differently? Here is what he said, via Steve Aschburner of NBA.com.

“A lot of me, of course, being the leader of this team wants the last shot. And wants the game to be decided by me,” George said. “But at the same time, I’ve got to have trust for my teammates. C.J. has been in that position in this season where I needed him to make a big shot. And I’ve kicked it to him and he’s made the big shot.

“I thought he had a good look. A very makeable shot for C.J. But I was selfish in the moment. I wanted that shot in that moment.”

He should want that shot, but he’s also got to know if the defense takes dramatic steps to take him out of the play, he’s got to trust teammates. The way Michael Jordan trusted Steve Kerr, or Kobe Bryant Derek Fisher.

LeBron James raced out ridiculously high to trap George, and with that pass to Miles the Pacers had a 4-3 below the arc.George slid over toward the ball and called for it, but LeBron went with him meaning any pass back would have been forced, and at best resulted in a long, contested shot over LeBron. Miles got a better look. You live with that.

The real question heading into Game 2 is how much that game scared the Cavaliers, and will it lead to better focus, sharper rotations from them on defense? If so, the Pacers are in trouble, but after a couple of months of lackluster defense nobody is betting on the Cavs to flip the switch on that end.

 

Grizzlies’ Mike Conley says Game 1 loss to Spurs “felt like a done-for-the-year type of loss”

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The Spurs defensive strategy in Game 1 against the Grizzlies was clear — stop Mike Conley. From the second quarter on the point guard —

From the second quarter on the point guard — a guy who lived up to a huge off-season contract, even if he again didn’t make the All-Star team — saw a steady diet of Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, and at times Jonathon Simmons (an underrated defender). The result was Conley went 5-of-14 shooting the rest of the way, with seven assists, numbers not good enough for Memphis to beat San Antonio. Gregg Popovich even said postgame he was willing to let Marc Gasol score more than Conley, the point guard was the top priority.

Conley told the Commercial Appeal he took the loss hard.

“Didn’t sleep really, man,” he said. “It felt like a done-for-the-year type of loss.”

That said, Conley said he’s prepared for Game 2 Monday night.

“I’m ready,” he said, quietly. “I’m ready for Game 2….

“We knew coming in he was going to key on one guy,” Conley said. “Different years, it’s been different people. So it’s my first time having to deal with it, honestly, so I’m going to figure it out.”

The Grizzlies can use Conley in different actions, get him moving off the ball and getting screens to get him some space when he does get it to operate. No doubt coach David Fizdale put those in.

However, the reality is much simpler: The other Grizzlies need to make the Spurs pay for their attention to Conley. From the second quarter on Saturday, Grizzlies not named Conley or Gasol shot 31.9 percent from the floor. As a team after the first quarter, the Grizzlies shot 37.1 percent inside eight feet and were 4-of-13 from the midrange. As a team the Grizzlies shot 40.6 percent on uncontested shots in Game 1. That’s simply not good enough.

Vince Carter, Zach Randolph (3-of-13 for the game), and the rest of the Grizzlies need to hit some shots or Game 2 is going to look a lot like Game 1, no matter what Conley does.

Despite 60-loss season, Nets not looking to rush the rebuild

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NEW YORK (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets own two first-round draft picks, though not the one that has a 25 percent chance of being No. 1 overall.

They have money to spend in free agency, if they want to go that route.

So there are ways to upgrade the worst team in the NBA.

They just won’t rush it.

“Listen, I know we have big strides to make and 20 wins, not enough. It’s not good enough for any of us, but I do think we’re going to reap the benefits of going through this struggle,” coach Kenny Atkinson said Monday.

The Nets finished 20-62 in their first season under Atkinson, getting most of those victories during the final two months of the season. It was expected to be a rough season and it was, as they undertake a rebuilding process under general manager Sean Marks after years of sometimes reckless spending that never brought them close to a championship.

They won’t get near one anytime soon, either. Marks used the work “strategically” about a half-dozen times Monday in his season-ending news conference to describe the way he will build the team.

The easiest chance for an immediate score in a promising draft is long gone, because the Nets have to swap picks with Boston as they continuing paying for the trade that landed them Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. So the Celtics will have no worse than the No. 4 pick in the draft.

But the Nets do have the Celtics’ pick and acquired Washington’s during the season, giving them two selections later in the first round.

“I like having two picks, that’s for sure,” Marks said. “I think it just gives us another swing at it.”

Beyond that, the Nets could try to sign a veteran star to become the headliner of the team, but that doesn’t sound like the plan.

“I think we’ve got to really evaluate the roster and if you go after one of the top-tier guys, you obviously would hope to get them – you hope to get all your targets that you go for – but does that really make you better? Does it get you to 30 wins, 35 wins?” Marks said.

“The objective here is for us to be in the playoffs. When that comes, we’ll have to wait and see, but you don’t want to go and sign free agents and next thing your payroll is capped out and so forth and you’re a 25-win team.”

Nets executives are bound this week for Europe, where they will meet with Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov and do some scouting. The makeup of the roster for next season seems wide open beyond point guard Jeremy Lin, with center Brook Lopez perennial trade bait even as he adapted his game well this season to fit Atkinson’s offense.

Prokhorov, who once longed to win a championship within five years, now seems on board with a gradual rebuild.

It took time to get the Nets into the situation they’re in, and they’re prepared to take time to get out.

“Obviously the losses weren’t easy but I did understand, I think we understood what we’re getting into and I know in the long run that the adversity that we had to face, it’s almost like you deserve to face that,” Atkinson said.

“So I kind of like that process and looking back on it, having to fight through some tough times, I think that’s going to make us better in the long run. But I know it’s one foot in front of the other.”

Check out Jimmy Butler’s 30 (23 in second half) dropped on Celtics (VIDEO)

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The eighth seed Bulls went into Boston Garden and took Game 1 from the Celtics Sunday.

There were a few reasons for this. Rebounding, for one — the Bulls grabbed the offensive board on 38.5 percent of their missed shots (scoring 23 second chance points). Second, during the regular season, the Celtics just outwork teams, but come the playoffs everyone is trying and that advantage is gone.

But the biggest reason — the Bulls had the best player on the court Sunday in the form of Jimmy Butler. He scored 30 points and added nine rebounds, plus a timely block on Isaiah Thomas. Check out Butler’s highlights above.

Paul Millsap on loss to Wizards: “we were playing basketball and they were playing MMA”

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Welcome to the NBA playoffs, when the officials swallow their whistles and let the players play. (That isn’t universally true, but certainly a number of officiating teams let the game ramp up.)

The Washington Wizards took advantage of that in a 114-107 Game 1 win over Atlanta Sunday. John Wall, with his 32 points and 14 assists, stole the headlines after carving up the Hawks’ defense, but part of the Wizards’ win was they were the more physical team by far.

Paul Millsap apparently didn’t like that. Here’s what he said postgame, via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“The difference in the game was we were playing basketball and they were playing MMA,” Millsap told reporters, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They were physical. When the game is like that, we have to match their physicality. But again, we’ve got to go get some moves and bring them back to the court.”

This was clearly a message aimed for the next officiating crew. Millsap and the Hawks would like it all called a little tighter. He thought the officials let the Wizards — particularly Markieff Morris, who was on Millsap for chunks of the game — get away with too much.

Maybe, but welcome to the playoffs. If the officials are letting it get physical, the Hawks have to match it. That starts with Dwight Howard in the paint, but it means everyone out there. Millsap had 19 points on just eight shots, but he and the rest of the Atlanta starters were outplayed in this game and that has to change by Wednesday.