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The Indiana Pacers looked like they might have a chance of upsetting the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon, but it was obviously not meant to be as LeBron James took over in the final stanza to give his Heat the Game 1 victory. The Pacers had their chances, though, and one local writer wasn't afraid to point that fact out in his Monday morning column.
The Indianapolis Star's Bob Kravitz wasn't happy with the Pacers' attitude following the game and, in a surprising move, he decided to go in pretty hard on his home team. Frank Vogel and his Indiana team set up a compelling narrative -- and his team stuck to it following the Game 1 loss -- but Kravitz wasn't having any of it.
After the game, Pacers guard George Hill was checking out the final score sheet, so I asked him if anything jumped out at him that would explain this loss.
"No comment," he said.
Then he commented.
"Y'all know,'' he said, clearly referring to the 38-28 free-throw disparity. "We know. Everybody knows. The world knows. But sometimes it's better left unsaid."
Mr. Hill, Mr. Stern on line 1.
Was there a free-throw-attempt and free-throw-make disparity? Obviously. Are guys like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade going to get calls that Paul George and Darren Collison aren't going to get? Obviously. Did it hurt the Pacers to have so many players in early foul trouble? Obviously.
Deal with it. Losers whine. And then they go home for the summer. Don't be that fan base. Don't be that city.
Kravitz went on to call out the following parties: Danny Granger and Paul George for their lack of scoring, the Pacers big men for not taking advantage of the Chris Bosh injury, George Hill for picking up a charge call, free-throw shooting and rebounding just to make sure the entire team felt the wrath of his column.
It's an interesting strategy from the home team's columnist and, even though he made some valid points, it'll be interesting to see what sort of response he receives for the remainder of the series. If a "no comment" quote generates this type of vitriol, it'll be interesting to see what happens if the Pacers open their mouths any further.
The Heat won Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, but if they lose Chris Bosh for an extended period of time, they're in big trouble.
Not many people gave the Indiana Pacers much of a chance against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, especially in Miami, where the Heat compiled the NBA's best home record this season. When the Pacers came out hot in the first quarter of Game 1, few thought they could sustain it. They were winning at the half, and kept it close all game long. Unfortunately for the Pacers faithful, the Heat took their best shot and still won, 95-86.
The Heat played the second half without Chris Bosh, who left with a lower abdominal injury, but it didn't matter because Joel Anthony. Also, there are these two players named LeBron James and Dwyane Wade who seem to be pretty decent. James was presented with his third MVP award before tip, and answered with a performance that showed exactly why he was the runaway winner. He finished with 32 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and just one turnover. He made made clutch play after clutch play down the stretch, including a game-icing jumper to make it 95-86 with 31.5 seconds left. Wade was also brilliant, and he finished with 29 points and one ridiculous block.
The Pacers came out firing, as previously mentioned, especially Roy Hibbert and David West. But everyone seemingly went cold in the fourth quarter, which, as James could tell you, is the wrong time to do that. Hibbert had 17 points and 11 rebounds, West had 17 and 12, but in the second half, Wade and James outscored the entire Pacers team, 42-38. What's more, Paul George fouled out of the game and Hibbert was in foul trouble pretty much the entire second half, and the entire team seemed to lack aggression after the intermission. It's tough to accuse any team of shying away from the moment, but the Pacers didn't seem ready to steal this one on the road. Game 2 of the series is Tuesday night.
With 11 minutes and 17 seconds left to go in the fourth quarter, Heat center Joel Anthony got an offensive rebound and a layup to put the Heat up, 72-70.
That was the last time someone other than LeBron James or Dwyane Wade scored for Miami in this game.
UPDATE: Apologies, Anthony did hit one free throw with under a minute left. So, slight amendment: James and Wade scored 22 of Miami's last 23 points.
Miami ended up winning by nine.
I think it’s worth wondering why Frank Vogel closed with starter George Hill at point guard instead of backup Darren Collison. Hill got swallowed up by a Heat trap with Indiana down six, then tried a weird floater in the lane in transition with just over a minute left that air-balled. He looked the complete opposite of poised.
Meanwhile, Collison, while a bit erratic sometimes, was making far more plays off the dribble than Hill. With the Heat’s defense tightening up, Collison’s playmaking ability would have been an asset late.
The Indiana Pacers are a nice basketball team, but they don't have LeBron James or Dwyane Wade. That's simplistic, I know, but Wade and James have 38 points in the second half, compared to 37 total for the Pacers. Also, they can do things like what Wade did just here blocking Paul George on a breakaway.
We've seen Wade do this so often that I don't think we appreciate the high degree of difficulty of this block. For one thing, George, who is no slouch as an athlete himself, had a 20-foot head start. For another, he cleverly went to the reverse layup, cutting off Wade's obvious blocking angle.
All that, and Wade was still able to adjust his arm in midair to reach the ball on the other side of the rim and get the block. A play that great should never be taken for granted.
Even if LeBron James was in pain after taking this shot from David West, it wasn’t where he started grabbing. West elbowed him in the chest, not the throat.
No foul was called on this play. Maybe referees are starting to listen to David Stern.
After combining for 23 first-half points, David West and Roy Hibbert have only scored four since halftime. Hibbert’s excuse is foul trouble -- he picked up his fourth early in the third quarter. West, meanwhile, isn’t finding enough space on pick and pops.
Mostly, though, this is an illustration of how tough it is to maintain a post advantage in today’s NBA. The Heat pressure the ball so well when locked in, which takes away all easy passing angles. It’s much easier said than done to keep your post players locked in.
Also, Hibbert just picked up his fifth foul.
As noted earlier, the Pacers are not paying any attention to Joel Anthony. Anthony, however, has noticed too, and he’s finding space to get offensive rebounds and help his team. If he can do that, it’ll make him useful offensively.
He’s already a net positive defensively, so if he can continue to not be a net negative offensively, he’ll be useful.
LeBron James is known for being a team player, but he can't just dap everyone who's asking for it, even if it is Miami Heat assistant coach Keith Askins. Askins is a former player, though, so he knows how to create for himself.
Sweet self-dap, and way to see your open teammate Bron, even if it was too late. It's the thought that counts.
Now, imagine if that’s Chris Bosh instead of Anthony. Suddenly, those lanes are open.
I don’t think enough people appreciate what David West does to your pick and roll defense. West, honestly, doesn’t really set screens as much as he floats his body in different directions to get open on pick and pops. That’s so counterintuitive to defend, especially for an aggressive team like the Heat.
That explains why, on one play, Udonis Haslem initially stepped up to cut off Darren Collison, then ran far away from him while Collison still had the ball. Haslem was so scared about West’s ability to get open on the pick and pop that he left the guard with the ball. Collison penetrated and found Paul George for an open corner three, and Haslem got an earful from Dwyane Wade coming down the court.
NBA coaches have a tendency to not want to officially call a timeout until their team has the ball past halfcourt. This means that the point guard is tasked with dribbling the ball down the court, then stopping to signal for the timeout once he gets to the sidelines. Usually, this happens without incident, because teams kind of stop playing knowing that the timeout is coming anyway.
Hill was rushing to the sidelines to preserve as much of the shot clock as possible, but Heat guard Mario Chalmers stepped in to cut off his path. Hill couldn't slow down and instead barged right into Chalmers for the offensive foul.
Pacers fans might call it cheap on Chalmers' part, but I call it smart. Hill has to know that he can't accelerate there, given that he already has four fouls. Chalmers knew, and made a game-changing play because he did.
For all the talk about the Heat’s inconsistent offense, it’s really their defense that tends to waver. They’re never bad defensively, but there are times where they are great and times where they are average. For the first three minutes of the third quarter, they have been great with their ball pressure, and that’s allowed them to get back into the game.
If Miami’s defense can be consistently great, Indiana will commit lots of turnovers and get stagnant offensively. That’s what the Pacers do.
Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh will not return to Game 1 of the team's 2012 NBA Playoffs second-round series against the Indiana Pacers. The team announced that the injury is an abdominal strain. Bosh suffered the injury after falling awkwardly on his left leg following a slam dunk late in the first half. Ronny Turiaf has replaced Bosh in the lineup.
"We've never seen Chris Bosh go back to the room like that," Heat assistant coach Bob McAdoo relayed to ABC sideline reporter Lisa Salters.
Bosh was having an excellent game, posting 13 points and five rebounds. If he is out for an extended period of time, the Heat may be in trouble. They were at a disadvantage inside against Roy Hibbert and David West even with Bosh playing.
Well, the Heat are losing to the Pacers. This is not totally unexpected -- the Pacers are a good team -- but still, Miami invented the Superteam™. It's somewhat surprising to see Indiana with a 48-42 lead at halftime against the Heat.
Here are bad things that happened to the Heat in the first half:
• Miami shot 36 percent from the field.
• Miami fell behind 13-4 and played catch-up the rest of the half.
• Chris Bosh Injury: Miami's Big Third left the game after falling awkwardly on his leg.
• LeBron "CHOCKFRAUD" James had six points on 3-of-9 shooting. MVPLEASE!
Here are some more things you need to know/see from the first half:
• David Stern gave an interview in which he said it's time to get TOUGH on flopping.
Lasting Image: Awwwwwwww Happy Mother's Day, LeBron's mom.
The Miami Heat are already losing Game 1 of their second-round 2012 NBA Playoffs series against the Indiana Pacers, and now, they may have to deal without one of their top players. Forward Chris Bosh had to leave the game with less than a minute to go in the first half after coming down awkwardly on his left leg.
Here's the play.
Bosh was going for a slam dunk on Indiana Pacers star Roy Hibbert, and upon completing it, he landed straight on his left leg. He tried to stay in the game, but struggled through the Heat's next defensive possession and ended up crouching on the ground after it was over. The Heat called a 20-second timeout to get Bosh out of the game.
Bosh had a very strong first half, posting 13 points and five rebounds. If he cannot play for a significant period of time, Miami is in trouble.
On the play that just happened as I started writing this, LeBron James and Chris Bosh ran a pick and pop, and Bosh shot-faked and drove on Roy Hibbert for a slam dunk. To the best of my knowledge, that’s the first time Miami attacked Hibbert in the pick and roll. That has to change if Miami wants to get back in this game.
After averaging 18.8 points and 8.8 assists on 54-percent shooting in the Pacers’ five-game series win over the Orlando Magic, Darren Collison has hit his first two shots and is running around the Miami Heat’s pick and roll defense. This is another one of the many keys to a competitive series for Indiana. Collison has to continue his strong play to give the Pacers some much-needed offense off the bench.
The Indiana Pacers’ strong first quarter was kind of ruined by foul trouble. Paul George, David West and now Danny Granger all have two fouls, which has allowed Miami to get back into the game. The Pacers were 26th in the league in fewest free throws surrendered per shot attempt during the regular season. The Heat were fifth in the league offensively in that category. This is going to be a series-long problem.
It didn't take long for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to pull off one of their patented half-court alley-oops. Here is Wade finding a streaking James down the court early in their second-round NBA Playoffs opener against the Indiana Pacers.
Wade's pass was actually not a good one, but James has such amazing strength that he's able to pull it from below his chin to above the rim. Alas, the rest of the Heat are struggling a bit, as the Pacers lead midway through quarter one.
The key for the Pacers throughout this series against the Heat will be how well they deal with Miami’s pressure. If the Pacers can get the ball inside to Roy Hibbert and David West with enough space, they have an advantage -- but that’s much easier said than done. So far, they’ve done a very good job.
Ripping on Miami Heat fans for not showing up is low-hanging fruit, but even considering that, the lack of fans in these front-row seats is embarrassing.
The Clipper and Grizzlies might not have provided the best basketball experience of the NBA Playoffs first round, but Los Angeles and Memphis sure provided the best viewing experience. What a series.
All that comes to an end Sunday as the Clippers were able to hold off the Grizzlies in a rough-and-tumble Game 7 in Memphis, winning 82-72. Los Angeles advances to face the Spurs. Game 1 tips on Tuesday in San Antonio.
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So... The Clippers are in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. This is a real, true sentence! Say it aloud. Check out that mouthfeel. Strange, right? Well, it's just the second time that it can be said since the team moved to Los Angeles in 1984.
Here's what you need to know from the game:
Player of the Game
Chris Paul finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists and two steals. The Clippers don't win this game without their bench, but those guys are irrelevant without CP3.
GIF of the Game
Yup, that's definitely a basketball play.
Lasting Image of the Game
Spot the trend? This was a physical series. PLAYOFF BASKETBALL, etc.
Catch up with the best of Game 7 on our Clippers vs. Grizzlies StoryStream. For all news and information regarding the Los Angeles Clippers, please visit Clips Nation or check out SB Nation Los Angeles. For updates and perspective on the Memphis Grizzlies, head on over to Straight Outta Vancouver.
After scoring 19 points in the first three quarters, Rudy Gay has zero points in the fourth quarter. Worse, he’s only taken one shot: a missed jumper at the 4 minute-52 second mark.
Who is to blame for that? Is it Gay for not making an impact on the game? Is it Mike Conley for not getting him going? Is it Lionel Hollins for not running plays for him? It’s probably a combination of the three, but no matter what, this is an illustration of the Grizzlies’ fourth-quarter woes.
Sometimes, Gay shouldn’t take many shots. This afternoon was not one of those times.
Say what you want about Vinny Del Negro, but it takes HUGE guts to sit Blake Griffin in the final minutes of a Game 7. If it doesn’t work, Del Negro probably gets fired. It looks like it’s going to work, though. How many other NBA coaches would do what Del Negro did this afternoon?
I can think of two: Tom Thibodeau and Gregg Popovich.
Memphis Grizzlies fans may be talking about this dubious call for a while. The Clippers’ offensive possession was going nowhere when Tony Allen deflected a pass back to Chris Paul away. Allen ran over to save the ball out of bounds, grabbed it for a split second, then threw it back inbounds over his head right to Blake Griffin.
The referees, in a controversial call, decided that Allen had possession, so the shot clock was allowed to reset. This did not make Allen happy.
Nick Young eventually drew a foul for the Clippers and hit two free-throws, so the call was costly. I can understand Allen’s frustration.
There are six and a half minutes left in the game, and here are the guys out on the floor.
CLIPPERS: Eric Bledsoe, Mo Williams, Nick Young, Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans.
GRIZZLIES: O.J. Mayo, Tony Allen, Quincy Pondexter, Marreese Speights, Marc Gasol.
The Clippers’ lineup is winning, big-time. Raise your hand if you predicted this.
After playing six outstanding games, Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley is having problems in Game 7. He’s 2-13 from the floor, and at least two of those misses were wild, over-the-heat layup attempts where he tried to draw a foul. Sorry Mike, but you’re not going to get that call in a Game 7.
The Grizzlies desperately need him to redeem himself. The Clippers have taken an eight-point lead, and Conley desperately needs to calm everyone down and get the team back into their sets.
… in the fourth quarter of a Game 7. Bold decision by Lionel Hollins, that’s for sure.
Rudy Gay catches a lot of flack for his poor shot selection, and a lot of it is deserved. However, at the end of the day, there’s a reason the Grizzlies value him so much. In a physical game where nobody can score efficiently, Gay has 19 points on 13 shots with six rebounds and very good defense on Caron Butler after three quarters.
Just saying, on the aggregate, he’s still a very good player, even if we wish he could be a bit more than that.
Remember how we discussed the dilemma presented to the Grizzlies when Tony Allen is in the game? Now, having studied how the Clippers’ inattention to him, Allen is starting to cut to the basket, come up with loose balls and not settle for jumpers. He needs to keep doing that to stay on the floor.
The Clippers’ forward is having another poor shooting game, but he is making aggressive moves to the basket, defending the hell out of Rudy Gay and, ohbytheway, IS PLAYING WITH A BROKEN HAND.
We’ve officially reached the PLAYOFF BASKETBALL portion of this game, where players are allowed to fight each other under the basket and the referees will look the other way to keep the narrative going.
Our evidence: Zach Randolph getting away with this forearm shiver (or whatever this move is) on Blake Griffin.
Maybe we should cool it on the “Blake Griffin is a flopper” meme.
There's nothing like a close Game 7. The Clippers and Grizzlies are slugging it out in Memphis for a shot at the Spurs in the second round. So forgive them if the score if just 39-38, Los Angeles leading, at halftime and try to enjoy the human drama at hand.
So, what's it going to take to win a battle like this?
"Everything is mental right now," Chris Paul told Doris Burke at the end of the first half.
Here's what you need to know from the first half:
• Chris Paul has 11 points, three assists and three rebounds for the Clippers.
• Blake Griffin has just six points on 2-of-10 shooting. The Clippers need more.
GIF of the Half
Zach Randolph gets away with a little hand-to-face action.
Highlight of the Half
Forget fan of the game. This guy's been fan of the NBA Playoffs.
Second Half Inspiration
Finally, here's an inspiring speech from Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins toward the end of the half. May it inspire YOU for the last 24 minutes of action.
Keep up with the best of Game 7 as it happens on our Clippers vs. Grizzlies StoryStream. For all news and information regarding the Los Angeles Clippers, please visit Clips Nation or check out SB Nation Los Angeles. For updates and perspective on the Memphis Grizzlies, head on over to Straight Outta Vancouver.
The art of delivering a good speech to your team during a timeout is all about making a cliche sound inspiring. Few do it better than Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins. Here he is with a well-delivered anecdote to his Grizzlies team during Game 7.
With his Grizzlies team playing tight in the heat of a Game 7, this was exactly what they needed to hear. Recently, they've played inspired ball and have gotten right back into this game.
I think I would like playing for Hollins if I was an athlete.
You have to admire Chris Paul for his commitment to working the officials. That he even bothered to try to make this inadvertent slap to the face by Zach Randolph into anything is pretty amusing.
The Memphis Grizzlies are playing listlessly so far in this Game 7 against the Clippers, and the player on their roster widely known for playing hard all the time is Tony Allen. It would seem that this is the perfect game for coach Lionel Hollins to use Allen.
There's only one problem: with Allen in the game, the Grizzlies are basically playing 4 on 5 on offense. Because of his poor shooting, Allen is garnering absolutely no attention from the Clippers' defense. Notice in this screenshot how Mo Williams is paying no attention to Allen on the weakside even before Rudy Gay throws the post entry pass to Marc Gasol.
With Williams cheating to the middle, Gasol has no room to operate and was forced to take a fadeaway jumper. Hollins is either going to have to taken Allen out or figure out some way to make the Clippers pay for not guarding him.
For the second time in this game, a Clippers big man set a vicious screen in transition to free a guard for an open jumper. In the first quarter, DeAndre Jordan did the trick to get Eric Bledsoe open. Now, Reggie Evans picked off Mike Conley beautifully, freeing Chris Paul for a transition jumper and a seven-point lead.
In a game where offense is going to be tough to come by, these plays are huge. As for the Grizzlies, they need to start talking more defensively to prevent their guards from getting flattened.
When the season began, the Los Angeles Clippers had Randy Foye, Chauncey Billups and Mo Williams as possible options behind Chris Paul. Given that, how could anyone have predicted that Eric Bledsoe would be in this position? Not only is he playing regularly, but he’s providing the Clippers with a huge spark off the bench, especially defensively and pushing the ball.
Bledsoe isn’t much of a finisher in traffic, nor is he a great shooter, but things just tend to happen when he’s on the court. I know, I know, that’s a cliche, but how else do you explain him being a +20 in the last three-plus games?
… resulted in him having issues handling the ball, getting pushed 35 feet from the hoop and a pretty bad turnover. Welcome to a Game 7, Nick Young.
Blake Griffin just rotated over beautifully to swat Mike Conley’s layup attempt, staying straight up in the air while doing so. I’ve watched a lot of Clippers games this year, and I don’t think I’ve seen Griffin rotate this quickly defensively all year. He’s a huge reason why the Grizzlies are having problems scoring so far.
You may remember us profiling this Memphis Grizzlies fan sitting in the front row with goggles and a Star Wars T-shirt during Game 5 of the team's series against the Los Angeles Clippers. He's back for Game 7, and this time, he's decided to wear a very different-colored T-shirt.
Don't look over there, Clippers players. You might get blinded.
Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul is so fluid with the ball that you never think he commits an infraction. Therefore, I can't really blame Jeff Van Gundy here for initially assuming Paul made a legal play going from the three-point line to the lane without a dribble on a fast break early in the team's Game 7 against the Memphis Grizzlies.
At least Van Gundy realized it sooner or later.
Paul started his move in Arkansas, finished here on 4th and Linden.— Kevin Arnovitz (@kevinarnovitz) May 13, 2012
Unlike previous losses in this series, the Memphis Grizzlies are trying to go inside to Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. That’s the formula that worked in Games 5 and 6, after all.
However, the Clippers seem way more prepared to guard the Grizzlies’ big men. Blake Griffin, not known as much of a defender, is guarding Marc Gasol extremely well, blocking one shot and contesting another. DeAndre Jordan has also played much better position defense on Zach Randolph, preventing him from getting good looks.
You don’t often see this Clippers frontcourt guard their men like this. If they did it more often, maybe the Clippers wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place.
It's generally a good idea to be nice to people who you have elbowed in the temple with all of your strength. But then again, Metta World Peace/Ron Artest has never really been once for good ideas, right?
"I don't shake substitutes' hands," World Peace said.
However, he's very good at saying things: (I would provide context for this quote, but, um, I'm just so confused.)
"That's not my concern," World Peace said. "That's their concern. Freedom of America, freedom of speech, freedom to really do what you want to do. That's why it's a great country."
World Peace's 15 points and typical defensive tenacity was a key factor in Los Angeles' Game 7 win over Denver in his first game since sitting out seven games after James Harden in the head. Now that he's matched up against Harden and the Oklahoma City Thunder, people were wondering whether he'd maybe shake Harden's hand or something. But no, Harden comes off the bench - in fact, he just won an award for being the best person at coming off the bench! - and therefore, he isn't worthy of having his hand shaken.
World Peace has more thoughts on Oklahoma City's hand-shaking policies:
"I shake everybody's hand before the game, but Oklahoma City, they don't shake hands," World Peace said. "Only some of them, but I don't think they really shake hands before the game. Kendrick Perkins and now (Russell) Westbrook don't shake hands either. (Russell) used to shake hands, but now he don't shake hands anymore."
He apparently has been unable to shake hands with Perkins since the 2010 Finals where the Artist Formerly Known as Artest played against Perkins' Celtics.
"I used to go and shake hands," World Peace said. "I've been playing against Kendrick forever. Kendrick, he'll never shake your hand so I'd have to go and find Kendrick and shake his hand. In Boston, every game I'd have to go to him and say, 'Hey,' and then tap him on the butt. He don't touch my hand. But, I'm getting tired of making that walk."
This is obviously all just dumb pre-game rhetoric, but it is the dumbest of all pre-game rhetorics.
As pointed out on the ABC broadcast, the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers have combined to shoot 3-18 in the first five minutes. Two of those field goals were by Tony Allen, and he just got taken out of the game.
It’s a cliche to say that players are nervous when they play Game 7s. It’s also true.
Editor's note: This column was originally published on May 13 when the Clippers faced a Game 7 in the first round. Given it that it deals with the future of the Clippers and L.A. was eliminated on Sunday, we are republishing it now.
The Indiana Pacers stroll into Miami on Sunday looking to pull off a monumental upset against the Heat.
The Memphis Grizzlies gave up a 27 point lead in Game 1 and went into a 3-1 hole, but have forced a Game 7 against a hobbled Los Angeles Clippers team.
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