Fair warning: If you're looking for Homer's Digest, this post may not be for you. Meanwhile, here are my key thoughts for the post-ASG stretch of the season.
This could also pay homage to another of my infamous thread titles, as This Team Is Built to Play Miami in the Playoffs.
When we drafted Paul George, I was looking forward to the day we could trade one of our two SFs for a shooting guard that can create his own shot off the dribble. Granger's injury now has me looking forward to just seeing how much better we'll be with both of our wings on the court, taking pressure off each other. Paul George has shown tremendous growth. His next challenge is to show that its not just because he's in the role of "best wing on the team" and that he can keep it up with the team at full strength. I think the next step could be challenge for him to as assertive on a team at full strength vs. stepping up on a depleted team. I think he'll get through this challenge, but with growing pains along the way. Probably more growing pains than PD overall is expecting.
I thought Paul George's ASG appearance was impressive, but I think for different reasons than the rest of you. I now know exactly where I want Paul George when Hill and West run a pick and roll at crunch time. I want him on the weakside baseline for (1) spacing and (b) he's deadly there in a catch-and-shoot when the ball is reversed. I still think the play MUST start in Hill's hands as a Hill & West pick and roll is the offensive option in which all five guys are threats to make the last shot and must be played straight up defensively. And I still don't want him in a position where he has to put the ball on the floor.
I'll go one step further, although I think I saw this somewhere else on the web yesterday. Paul George's performance was the best Pacers' performance in an ASG over the past 25 years. While Paul's offense is still primarily as a catch-and-shoot guy, he brought defense and wing rebounding to the second quarter of an NBA all-star game. That's a rare accomplishment.
I'm looking forward to Lance with the second unit, becasue the second unit needs a go-to guy. A little concerned, though, that he'll act like Dhantay Jones with the second unit and hog the ball. He's really cut down on his, "what in the world is he thinking?" kind of mistakes. He's played well within in the team structure. We'll know soon if Lance is better as the fifth option with the starters or as the go-to guy with the bench. Either way, he's made so much progress that we could have two most-improved candidates right now.
Was debating with a Bulls fan over the weekend... he said Miami would walk away with the East this year. I said, "No, they can't beat us." West and Hibbert together mean that Bosh is worthless, and while some of us (okay, maybe just me) may not have ever been believers in Bosh, they don't really have a better alternative. We are a matchup problem for them. Clearly our best hope is to chase down the #1 seed, but is that realistic? I don't know. I know Miami would rather play NYK than us.
Hibbert's contract gets too much attention on here. There are two common and popular fallacies that keep appearing - (a) that there is a statistic that measures the "presence" of a post player and that (ii) compensation of an NBA center is tied to some metric or statistic. I know his FG% has been awful this year, but I can't imagine this team leading the Central Division right now with somebody else playing C, at both ends of the court. I hope over the second half of the year he rediscovers his shooting touch and crushes this silly conversation.
And lastly, what this team really needs is Chuck Person.
And I could use more confidence against a team like the Knicks, because I'm worried that we won't get to take our best shot at Miami if we end up in the 2/3 bracket against New York.
There you go. Fire away.