Roy Hibbert paid Pacers reserves to keep defensive clamps on Bobcats

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The Indiana Pacers are the best defensive team in the NBA right now. Hands down. Zach Lowe did a fantastic breakdown of what they are doing over at Grantland. The Pacers are long, everybody can defend, their guys move on a string — one moves then the next moves to cover — and it’s just good basketball. Not highlight-filled beautiful basketball, but winning basketball.

That defense execution extends to their reserves — with no starters on the floor the Pacers defense would still be middle of the pack in the NBA. No other NBA team can say that.

But Roy Hibbert wanted to make sure the bench guys were motivated Tuesday nigh so he offered a little incentive against the Bobcats, reports the Indy Star.

Keep the Bobcats in the 70s, Hibbert instructed the five reserve players checked in the game. It’s worth $100 per man.

“I’m a man of my word,” he assured them.

In a happy locker room following a 103-76 blowout, the highest-paid Pacer ($13.66 million this season) handed out large bills to three teammates, including one he couldn’t name, Dominic McGuire, who is playing on a 10-day contract. Jeff Pendergraph refused his reward. Ben Hansbrough must wait until Hibbert finds an ATM.

The Pacers are having fun and improving game to game. Paul George to me is an All-Star player who has stepped up with Danny Granger out. Then in a few weeks Granger will not be out anymore and the Pacers offense should improve while the defense remains the same (Granger is a good wing defender).

Hibbert continues to be in an offensive slump that he needs to shake, and there are other questions about the Pacers for the playoffs. But if you can defend you are in games and have a chance.

And if you can motivate the bench to defend, all the better. And Hibbert may have found a way.

LeBron James passes Kareem to become all-time leader in playoff made field goals

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LeBron James is already the NBA’s all-time leading playoff scorer, having passed Michael Jordan last postseason.

However, LeBron racked up his buckets in the era of the three-point shot (as did Jordan, to a lesser extent), so Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the all-time leader in field goals made in the postseason. A lot of them beautiful skyhooks that still give Celtics fans nightmares.

Monday night, LeBron made history passing Abdul-Jabar for the top spot in NBA playoff made field goals.

Just add that to the already insane resume.

Kevin Love with insane touchdown outlet to LeBron James for bucket

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Not sure what part of this was better.

Was it Kevin Love‘s length-of-the-court outlet touchdown pass that was right on the money, where only the receiver could get it?

Or was it LeBron James, with a catch in a crowd that would make Julio Jones’ draw drop?

Either way, this first quarter bucket from the Cavaliers may well be the play of the game.

Spurs disbanding all-female dance team in favor of co-ed hype team

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Is this the wave of the future?

Since then newly-minted owner Jerry Buss started the Laker Girls’ in 1979, all-female dance teams have become standard around the NBA. However, with how things are now viewed through the prism of the #metoo movement, and reports on how NFL cheerleaders were treated in places such as Washington and Miami, a lot of professional sports teams are re-thinking the concept of female dance teams.

The Spurs are apparently doing away with theirs, to be replaced by a 35-person co-ed “hype team.”

The Spurs have not said officially that this is the end of the Silver Dancers. “Lack of interest” is an odd reason to give — is there suddenly less interest now than there was five years ago? A number of teams have both female dance teams and co-ed “spirit” or “hype” teams.

Far more likely, this is about perception in what is a conservative state and marketplace.

The question is will this become a trend, both around the NBA and professional sports. As the teams try to evolve and make more dynamic their in-arena experiences, are the dance teams going to fade from view?

Just something to keep and eye on going forward.

Just a reminder: Spurs hope to repair relationship with Kawhi Leonard, offer-him $219 million

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It’s everyone’s favorite parlor game around the NBA: Where will Kawhi Leonard play next season? Philadelphia? Los Angeles? Somewhere else? Fans of 29 teams are posting their trade scenarios online, while GMs of 29 teams privately have tried to come up with offers that could tempt San Antonio.

The most likely answer: San Antonio.

While the relationship between Leonard and the Spurs is frayed — and with the people close to Leonard and in his ear seemingly trying to push him out the door — the Spurs would rather keep one of the five best players in the NBA (when healthy) in-house. From Tom Osbourne of the San Antonio Express-News.

Still, the Spurs hope to meet with Leonard and his representatives soon in a bid to mend fences and pave the way for Leonard to come to terms on a five-year $219 million supermax contract that he will be eligible to receive starting July 1. If attempts to patch up the relationship fail, the Spurs will be forced to explore trading a player coach Gregg Popovich once labeled “the future face of the franchise.”

The timing of that meeting has been slowed in part because of the death of Popovich’s wife and everyone involved understandably giving him all the space wants. It will happen.

Can the relationship be salvaged? Maybe, $219 million can mend a lot of fences. There are things the Spurs can and would be willing to do to promote Leonard more (although that all starts with him getting out of his comfort zone and building his brand, starting with speaking more in public). Also, Gregg Popovich was able to sooth LaMarcus Aldridge‘s ego when the big man demanded a trade, and not only did the player stay he had an All-NBA level season. Popovich and Leonard still have a strong relationship.

Is that enough? Time will tell, but people around the league think at best it’s a coin flip. Things are not good right now. However, the Spurs will get the first crack at fixing this before they are forced to consider a trade.