It’s going to have to be very brief tonight due to a very hectic schedule so let me apologize for that up front.
Before I get to the grades there are really a couple of things that want to talk about and each one of them is something that I hated coming into the series and still for the most part hate but I will give some begrudging respect to Glenn Davis & Stan Van Gundy.
Stan has his team ready to play and he does not project that they are the underdog at all. In fact if you listen to him in the post game he sounds like a higher seed that lost to a lower one. Good for him.
I hate his reliance on the stupid perimeter based offense that he uses but I will credit him for switching to the pick and roll far more often in the post season. I still can’t stand the guy but I’ll say this, he is slightly a better coach than I want to admit he is and certainly he is better than Satan ever was.
As to Glenn Davis I just have to say how much I actually admire the work he is doing in this series and not because of how he is out playing Roy (which he is) but the fact that the guy has played 40 min. the first game and 38 min. this game. First let’s not forget he just rolled his ankle last week and while it wasn’t a high ankle sprain or anything it still caused him to miss a couple of games and was questionable for our games and second of all, well frankly he is just not in the shape that most NBA players are in even big guys. But until the second half of this game he has never shown any sign of fatigue or lack of energy on the floor. He did wear down in the second half, some of that was Tyler but some of it I think was just playing so much without a break.
While I’m giving out credit I’ll give Frank a lot of credit as well. He stopped the Hockey Line substitutions this game and mainly stuck with the starters and filtered in subs as needed. The regular season was a good idea to use a big rotation and there will still be times when he can play a deep bench in the playoffs but I think he has got to stop platooning out the starters because in both game they have built a double digit lead only to see the bench come in and squander it away. In the second half he stopped doing that.
I have a feeling that the reason they were in the locker room so long at the half was because I bet West was telling Frank to let him play more min and that he would produce. Well he played 41 min. this game and he definitely produced.
Also I’ll talk about him in his grades but I think it really needs to be said more than once and highlighted. Tyler Hansbrough changed the complexion of that game. His energy and physicality finally wore Davis down in the second half and he defended the pick and roll better than any big man has on our team since Jeff Foster played. The stats will NOT back this up, on paper he had a lousy game (other than steals) but simply stated there was no Pacer more valuable during the second half than he was.
Ok let’s hit the grades.
David West: A First half I wasn’t as thrilled with him as you would expect given that I am giving him an A, but frankly I thought he let some balls go by that I thought he could have gotten to and let Anderson rebound more than I thought he should have. However the second half was all his. Anderson actually fouled out trying to guard him and he really controlled the boards. His 10 free throw attempts were huge but here is the surprising stat of the night, he led us in assists. Now that doesn’t say as much about him as it does our overall offense but you have to give him credit for having a great overall game.
Danny Granger: C+ The good news is he still hasn’t had a good game yet. Look there is no other way to say this, sitting out that week was just a giant colossal mistake. His rhythm is off and he can’t hit water from a boat. But he still is battling and came up with a huge offensive rebound off of a missed free throw that led to a 3 point shot. Defense has been ok but it’s just so hard to gauge that this series because of the way they make you scramble on the damn PnR. If he can ever get going Orlando will be buried.
Roy Hibbert: C Good rebounding, good interior defense, **** poor offensive positioning and frankly just getting out hustled by Davis. I’m going to say something once and I’ll never say it again and I will deny later than I ever said it. I would recommend that Roy flop once or twice when Davis drives the paint just to see if the refs. would give him the call. God knows Anderson flopped big time to draw Roy’s 4th foul. But I wonder if maybe he couldn’t get the refs to give him the call due to Davis size? Either way I really really really would like to see him just once establish deep low post position to see what he could do.
Paul George: B Did a much better job of chasing Richardson around tonight and did a very good job of hitting the shots he took including that one fade away as the shot clock expired. But I liked the fact that he went to the rim a few times and even drew some fouls more. Of course hitting 100% of his free throws was much appreciated.
George Hill: A Thank God. He finally was able to stay with Nelson in the second half and more importantly he made it so Nelson had to spend some energy guarding him. One assist is not acceptable but getting to the line 6 times and hitting 5 of those certainly is. But his defense in the second half was outstanding and a very nice comeback game for him.
Leandro Barbosa: C+ Like Danny he really hasn’t had a good game yet either. Now don’t get me wrong he really had a couple of good drives to the basket but he still has not found his shot yet either and was 0-5 from the 3 point line tonight. He was decent on defense and on a couple of jump balls he saved the possessions. Like Danny once he has a good game from the bench I think we can bury Orlando in a game.
Tyler Hansbrough: A+ Look I don’t throw that out there lightly, in fact I really don’t want to because if you’re a power forward and you play 18 min. and don’t even accidently grab a rebound I think you have failed. But I can not deny that he totally changed the game when he came in and totally disrupted the Orlando front line but unlike other times when he comes in and scores off of wild shots or draws fouls tonight he did it with defense. Defense and hustle. Now it could just be that Davis was already physically drained but it doesn’t really matter as Tyler did what he had to do. I was just stunned at how well he defended the pick and roll. He was better than Lou at it tonight.
Lou Amundson: C- Not really one of Lou’s better outings. You’d think he’d match up a little better vs. Davis than he has so far but it just hasn’t worked out that way.
Darren Collison: C- Didn’t do much while he was out there tonight. Still kept Nelson in front of him for the most part which just makes me question why the hell he didn’t do that all year long, but better late than never I guess.
Ok we’ve got this tied up and we really truly need to go to Orlando and just stomp on them Wednesday.
Also it really needs mentioned that the crowd has been absolutely out of its mind good in both of these playoff games.
At one point in the 3rd we were as loud as any arena in the NBA. I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again we have always had a very large group of die hards, I think we have one of the larger groups in the NBA. But it has always been the casuals that we have problems with, well they aren’t a problem now. That place was packed and the crowd was outstanding.