Game Time Start: 8:30 PM ET
Where: The Fieldhouse, IN
Officials: K. Mauer, M. Callahan, E. Malloy, S. Corbin
Radio: WFNI 1070 AM / WAXY 790 AM, WRTO 98.3 FM / ESPN Radio
Media Notes: Indiana Notes, Miami Notes
NBA Feeds: NBA Audio League Pass (available free to NBA All-Access members)
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Season Records: (W-L) 1 58-37
Upcoming Games: May 28 May 30 June 1 June 3 vs at vs at 8:30 PM 8:30 PM 8:30 PM 8:30 PM
Projected Starting Lineup: HIBBERT WEST GEORGE STEPHENSON HILL Projected Starting Lineup: BOSH DJANGO JAMES WADE CHALMERS
Danny Granger - left knee surgery (out)
Sam Young - ankle (probable)
Mario Chalmers - deep shoulder bruise (probable)
Perpetually Disappointing Trader Joe Minimally Relevant Video:
Eight Points Nine Seconds: Jared Wade: To Hibbert or Not to Hibbert? A Question of Identity
I’m not mad at Frank Vogel’s decision to take out Roy Hibbert for the final play of
Indiana’s Game 1 loss to Miami. But in doing so, he was chasing a White Whale.
By putting Tyler Hansbrough out on the floor in place of his 7’2″ rim protecter, Vogel
chose a “switch-everything” lineup over one featuring an immobile anchor in the
middle. This way, figured Vogel, there would be no way that even the deft mind of
Erik Spoelstra could exploit Hibbert’s biggest shortcoming: slowfootedness. With
Hansbrough in Hibbert’s place, every Miami player could be closely guarded.
If they executed perfectly, there would be no way for a Heat player to get an
As long as every defender did his job.
As we saw, however, Paul George did not. He blew his assignment and let LeBron
James drive by him to the hoop for an easy layup in less than 2.2 seconds.
It’s hard to blame Vogel for that. George’s error was glaring.
Frank Vogel’s Overconfidence in His Defense
Of all the potential defensive breakdowns that could happen in 2.2 seconds, this
had to have been the least of Vogel’ worries. George, according to the media
members who voted for the NBA All-Defensive Team (and me), is the Pacers’ best
defensive player and one of the best four wing defenders in the NBA. Nobody can
stop LeBron from scoring entirely, but if there is one player in the league who
should be able to prevent him from walking by him to the hoop, it’s Paul George.
Really, there is no way that Vogel could have anticipated this outcome.
Though not this specific breakdown, he did know, however, that a breakdown was
possible. I won’t go so far as to say “probable,” but even with 2.2 seconds left, if
the Heat are running an Erik Spoelstra inbounds play 10 times, I would bet that
even Indiana, the hardest team in the NBA to score against, has some level of
breakdown three or four times.
Defense is just that hard.
Now, I’m sure Vogel knew this and expected that the most likely way that the
Pacers’ defense would break down was while chasing a shooter through a screen.
In the NBA, screens are very difficult to get through quickly. On television, these
guys on the court may appear to be ordinary, digitized people running around in
jerseys. But they are damn enormous. They are hardly recognizable as the same
brand of human you see at the supermarket. If you were to meet an ordinary-on
-TV-looking chap like Tyler Hansbrough, for example, he would probably be the
largest human being you’ve ever met in your life. To get around men of such size
quickly takes remarkable timing, precision, skill and effort.
Thus, switch everything.
That way, Miami’s screens — by far the best weapon an offense can use to get an
open shot in 2.2 seconds — become irrelevant. If you get screened, you just switch
to start guarding the guy who screened you and your teammates picks up your guy.
Every player remains covered at all times.
I haven’t talked to Vogel since Game 1, but I’m confident that this was his main
rationale. He simply didn’t expect the type of breakdown that occurred. He didn’t
believe his team would allow someone to get close enough to the rim for it to
really need protection.
In essence, he thought his guys could play perfect defense. He did not want to give
up anything, and he saw Hibbert as a liability that could be the cause of a
breakdown, not the last line of defense in case one did occur.
If that was his thought process, he was wrong.
But to me it was strategic decision-making flaw that was less about “over-
coaching,” as many have claimed, and more about over-confidence. He didn’t believe
the play would ever reach the point where Roy Hibbert’s perhaps-best-on-planet
talent of protecting the rim would be even useful, let alone necessary.
Kevin Arnovitz — who wrote a nice piece for TrueHoop discussing some other
coaching options that Vogel had in addition to the binary Hibbert/no-Hibbert decision
— summed it up as well as anyone has: “On Wednesday night, perfect defense was
the enemy of the good defense.”
Vogel thought his team could play perfect defense, conceding nothing.
He was wrong.
And it may end up costing his team the series.
Again, I’m not mad at the decision. I understand what he was going for, I think.
And I actually respect the confidence.
It’s not so unlike Roy McAvoy in Tin Cup thinking that he can win a golf tournament
by rocketing his ball over a water hazard instead of taking the safer route and
hitting two shorter shots. I can almost picture Cheech Marin next to Vogel on the
bench, handing him a 7-iron (aka, Roy Hibbert) and saying, “Coach, let’s just make
sure Miami doesn’t get a layup.” And then Vogel pulls out his 3-wood (aka, Tyler
Hansbrough) knowing that he can prevent Miami from not only getting a layup but
any sort of open shot anywhere on the court.
It’s pretty ballsy really.
Then Again …
In another, more insidious way, Vogel made a horrible decision.
Arnovitz also called the decision to take out Hibbert, thus going small, “a crisis of
As outlined here, I don’t think that is what he was thinking. I think Vogel believed
that Paul George is a defensive messiah who could single-handedly force even
LeBron James into nothing better than a contested jumper while also believing that
he had a club in his bag (switch everything) that would help him ensure nobody else
got anything better either.
But I do believe that Arnovitz’s “crisis of faith” phrase is exactly how this decision is
being seen. By Pacers fans, by the basketball cognescenti, and — here’s the insidious
part — Vogel’s players.
So in making his overconfidence-based decision, Vogel may have put a crack in the
foundation of this team’s identity. And that sucks. Because that is, ultimately, all this
(Note: It’s going to be awhile before I get back to this point. Humor the indulgence
for a bit.)
Stats Showing Why Switch Everything Makes Sense
Brett Koremenos did an superb job breaking down why, in a tactical basketball sense,
using the switch everything strategy made sense. (Mike Prada did something similar.)
They are both smarter than I about Xs and Os, so I won’t rehash their points. Read the
pieces. Become better informed.
I will, however, show a more-stat-based reason why “switch everything” makes sense.
With 2.2 seconds left, LeBron wasn’t the biggest threat to the Pacers.
Trust me, I know how dumb that sounds...CONTINUE READING AT 8p9s
Heat Index: Michael Wallace: Turnovers doom LeBron, Heat down stretch
As LeBron James walked onto the makeshift stage late Friday to take his seat at the
postgame news conference, he plucked the edge of the stat sheet he held.
In reality, the summary of numbers on the page was of little to no use for the Miami
Heat star. The important figures were already downloaded and analyzed in his head.
The 36 points James scored in Game 2 of the Heat's playoff series against the Indiana
Pacers marked the eighth time in his past nine conference finals games he's scored at
But they weren't enough.
The efficient 14-of-20 shooting, team-high eight rebounds, three assists, three steals
and block in 45 minutes of play really didn't matter at the end of the day, either.
The only total James was fixated on after Friday's 97-93 loss to the Pacers was listed
alongside his name in the third column from the right of the page, near where he
Two of them came in the final minute on passes intended for Ray Allen that were both
deflected by David West. The pair of errors came as the Pacers' defense boxed in
James, forced the four-time league MVP into uncharacteristic late-game miscues and
completed a suffocating rally to even this series at 1-1 heading to Indiana for the next
In a span of 48 hours, James transitioned from the celebrated hero who scored the
layup at the buzzer in a 103-102 victory in Game 1 to committing the key blunders
that cost his team Game 2 and home-court advantage.
“Very disappointing, of course, for me,” James said of a game that was on the verge
of being one of the best of his postseason career but became one he hopes to soon
forget. “The first thing I always look at on the stat sheet is my turnovers. I am very
disappointed in my judgment and my plays down the stretch. But I'll make up for
James might have accepted the bulk of the blame for the Heat's loss. But he was
hardly Miami's biggest burden on a night when multiple breakdowns conspired to leave
the Heat in the same position they were in a year ago when the Pacers earned a split
in Miami and eventually took a 2-1 series lead before losing 4-2 in the conference
LeBron James turned the ball over twice in the final minute of Miami's Game 2 loss.
There are numerous reasons the outcome shouldn't launch a new and silly debate on
James' clutch gene. Not when he didn't get enough help from Dwyane Wade and Chris
Bosh, who shot a combined 12-of-28 from the field.
It's hard to put this all on James when Miami's defense allowed Indiana to shoot 50
percent from the field, including 41.7 percent from 3-point range.
And especially when normally reliable sharpshooters Shane Battier and Allen sank so
deep into their respective slumps Friday that coach Erik Spoelstra was forced to dust
off seldom-used Mike Miller for a spell.
And despite all those debilitating elements, Miami still led 88-84 with six minutes left
after Bosh knocked down a 3-pointer to cap another one of those swift flurries that
make the Heat so devastatingly dangerous on most nights.
It was at that moment when you figured the Heat finally flipped the switch and landed
the major blow that usually leaves an opponent stumbling. But Miami is finding out
with each passing quarter in this series that there's something a bit different about
this Indiana team.
These Pacers have a solid chin. And they just keep coming.
It's still early in this series...CONTINUE READING AT HEAT INDEX
Hot Hot Hoops: Surya Fernandez: Pacers edge Heat this time, series at 1-1
The Miami Heat again lose home court advantage with a loss to the Indiana Pacers in
Game 2 and two tough road games are coming up next.
The Miami Heat may have escaped Game 1 with an overtime victory over the Indiana
Pacers by just one point but this time LeBron James could not make up the difference
in the end.
Two uncharacteristically sloppy plays from the MVP resulted in turnovers that sealed the
Heat's fate and a 1-1 series tie in the 2013 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers
were the better team tonight, with Roy Hibbert leading the way with a playoff career-
high 29 points and 10 rebounds, 6 of which were on the offensive glass, along with Paul
George who had a superb all-around game with 22 points, 6 assists and solid play on
both ends of the floor. The Pacers did most of their damage with their starters and only
needed 5 points from their bench in their victory over the defending champs.
LeBron poured in 36 points on an efficient 14-20 from the field but also had a game-
high 5 turnovers and he had very little consistent support from his teammates. Mario
Chalmers and Norris Cole continue to struggle mightily in this series, as well as Shane
Battier and Ray Allen not being able to knock down the long range jumpers that they've
been able to do so much during the Heat's historic second part of the season. Besides
the Birdman's usual stellar contributions off the bench, the Heat really hasn't had much
meaningful production from the reserves in either game so far. Yes, the Pacers didn't
need their bench in this game to win but the Heat also suffered from a clearly
struggling Dwyane Wade who practically lost the game in crunch time with an ill-
advised play towards the rim. Both Wade and Chris Bosh finished with 6-14 shooting
from the field each, and it just wasn't enough to overcome the taller and more
physically imposing frontline of the Pacers. Bosh grabbing just 5 rebounds isn't going
to be enough either but Wade in particular has looked shaky in his decision making
and something is clearly affecting his game physically and mentally. Though he was
able to knock down a few jumpers, he was not willing to attack the Pacers big men
and was hesitant in the few fast break opportunities the Heat had.
The three-point shooting that helps makes the Heat team so unbeatable has also been
taken away, with the team hitting just 7-of-22 for 31.8% of their long range shots.
Even more frustrating, the Heat missed 8 of their 26 free throws attempts for less
than 70% shooting. With games as close as these, those points represent the
difference between a win and a loss.
Those isn't the first time the Heat have lost a playoff game with the Big 3 but there
are plenty of signs of trouble if Wade continues to not be himself and the Heat's role
players don't step up and give the Pacers defenders something to think about before
packing the lane. Will coach Erik Spoelstra shake up his starting lineup or his rotation?
The Heat wasn't expected to simply breeze through the Pacers like they ended up
doing against the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls, but these first two games have
not been pretty for the best team in the NBA.
Make no mistake...CONTINUE READING AT HOT HOT HOOPS
Hardwood Paroxysm: Noam Schiller: Opportunity Thy Name is Birdmand
Chris Andersen got a shot. Despite the legal trouble that preceded this season, despite
the lack of general interest, someone gave him a chance. He signed a minimum deal
with a playoff team, working his way into a rotation, injecting athleticism, enthusiasm
and flamboyance into a front line that needed him. His strong form carried into the
playoffs, where he has made a ridiculous percentage of his carefully managed shots,
blocked everything in sight, and made the Conference Finals behind a star small
This is the story of Birdman and the 2012-13 Heat, a contender made even more
contendery off an opportunistic waiver wire pickup. But if the story sounds strikingly
familiar, it may be because we have seen it before.
Coming off a 2 year drug suspension and a poor, uneventful 5 game post-reinstatement
stint with the Hornets, Andersen was something of scorched ground in the summer of
2008. He nonetheless returned to the team that kickstarted his NBA career as the
Carmelo Anthony/Allen Iverson (soon-to-be-Chauncey-Billups) Nuggets signed him to a
minimum deal, and excelled in his role off the bench for the best team the Nuggets
have fielded in the George Karl era. The parallels to this year were striking – people
couldn’t understand where this guy had come from, how the Nuggets are getting him
for the minimum, how big his impact was on a huge run. He even knocked a
Conference Finals game out of the park.
Of course, said performance was parlayed into a 5 year deal that was either too long,
too expensive, or just too optimistic. As the makeup of the Nuggets changed for
completely different reasons, JaVale McGee took away his shot blocking, hyperathletic,
questionable-sanity big man spot. That and an odd, charge-less investigation eventually
led to him being amnestied. He was then given a 10 day contract from the Heat during
their annual big man tryout tour; they have lost 4 times in the 52 games since.
The natural reaction when a contender finds a cheap contributor lying around is one of
inevitability, a feeble acknowledgement of the rich-getting-richer proposition that has
no solution and fuels all aspects of life. The 2009 Lakers stumbling into Trevor Ariza
in a Brian Cook salary dump, or the 2008 Celtics giving the P.J. Brown resuscitation
project one last go, or whatever it was that came into Peja Stojakovic for the 2011
Andersen’s situation was different...CONTINUE READING AT HARDWOOD PAROXYSM
SB Nation: Tom Ziller: The affordability of an elite NBA defense
Smith is shooting as frequently as ever in the 2013 NBA Playoffs. He's also missing
as frequently as ever.
All final four NBA teams in the 2013 playoffs have elite defenses. What's most
interesting about that is that three of the teams have manageable payrolls, too.
J.R. Smith has had one helluva weird season. He won the Sixth Man of the Year award
and now he's shooting the Knicks right out of the postseason. After Tuesday night's
disaster in Indianapolis, Smith is 18-64 in the second round. 28 percent.
There are a number of interesting notes about the NBA's four conference finals
- Three represent traditional small markets, or at least cities considered
to be in the small market coalition. (San Antonio is top 10 in the United
States in population, but its media market is ranked much lower.)
- The teams finished Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 7 in team defense over the regular
season. They were Nos. 2, 7, 17 and 20 in offense.
- Three of the teams were outside the top 10 in payroll this season. (I'll
let you guess which one was the exception.) The teams ranked Nos. 4,
12, 22 and 25 in payroll, per HoopsHype.
This is all interrelated, and not as any sort of dictate about the lockout and its revival
of the small market. It tells a story about how you can build an affordable champion.
And by affordable I mean "above the league's $49 million payroll floor."
Defense is cheaper than offense in the NBA. (The exception is at center, where even
defense-skewed players are pricey.) Scoring is the top determinant for individual
salary; if you have a couple of 22-point scorers, you're going to be outlaying a lot of
money for offense. Some of the top defenders, though, make a pittance. Consider
Tony Allen, the Grizzlies' ace perimeter defender. He's made All-Defense three
straight years, including the first team in the past two seasons. He's wrapping up a
three-year, $9.5 million contract. The Grizzlies' old top scorer, Rudy Gay, who was
traded in January, made $16.4 million just this season to score 20 points a game.
A quick look at NBA numbers bears this out. The correlation between a team's 2012-
2013 payroll rank and its 2012-13 offensive rank is 0.2. The correlation between
payroll rank and defensive rank is -0.06. Here's a chart showing payroll and
Not exactly tightly organized around a strong positive correlation.
Two notes: notice...CONTINUE READING AT SB NATION
HoopSpeak: Beckley Mason: Is defense really half the game?
Paul George and Kyrie Irving are two of the most promising young talents in the NBA.
George is widely considered the most elite young wing defender, Irving the most elite
young scorer. I asked Twitter: who will be better in three years?
The paraphrased answer from those who chose George: he’s the far superior defender
(undoubtedly true) and a solid offensive player. Add it up, he’s the better, more
complete player than Irving, who plays defense like a bewildered deer who accidentally
wandered into a busy intersection.
Defense is half the game, the saying goes, and because we don’t have metrics to
measure defensive impact as precisely as we can offensive effectiveness, we rely on
offense as the overall measure.
On a macro scale, this is true. A team’s defense is as important as its offense. But on
an individual level, we intuitively know that defense and offense are not of equal
For some, like, say, Omer Asik, defense is the paramount responsibility. He uses
11.6% of possessions on offense, but is the last line of resistance in almost every
defensive possession. His defensive usage percentage, were there such a thing, would
be many times higher.
Now take Russell Westbrook, who was second in the NBA with a usage % of 32.8.
When he’s on the court, a whole third of his team’s offensive possessions run through
him. It’s overly simplistic to look at it this way, but if he is, say, 20 percent of the
Thunder’s defense, then we would say that more than half of his impact on the game
will come on offense.
The comparison above typifies what might be a general rule: big defenders are more
important than little ones, and those who create with the ball are more important than
those who only finish. It’s not that cut and dry, of course, but what’s evident with a
little bit of thought is that a player’s individual role and his team’s matchup dictate how
important each side of the ball is.
Against Chicago, where he might guard Luol Deng and David West and Hibbert might
be neutralized by Chicago’s interior defenders, Paul George’s offense would be just as,
if not more important, than his defense. But in these playoffs, he’s checked Carmelo
Anthony and LeBron James, and thus his individual defense has never been more
important (or easy to appreciate).
In these specific matchups...CONTINUE READING AT HOOPSPEAK
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