Well, when the Matt Barnes/Reggie Jackson play happened, I felt that would be a series defining moment. Doc Rivers is at the top of the coaching ranks, along with Greg Popovich of course, and Rivers had the perfect post-game press conference. He stated the same thing, that is could be a series-defining call. What was so great about his press conference, he held the officials accountable for a blown call, while holding he and his team accountable for what their mistakes. You have to respect Doc for his transparency, basket I.Q., and passion.
Speaking of basketball I.Q., there is an obvious difference when watching championship players and coaches. Rivers is anchoring a Clippers team that hasn’t experienced big games deep in the playoffs. He has done a remarkable job working with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, they broke out this season individually. J.J. Redick has been featured in strategic gameplans, brought out a two-way Matt Barnes player, and is trying to help Chris Paul polish his game. CP3 has been an elite point guard for years, on both sides of the ball, but he can still improve. For years I’ve been expressing how he doesn’t rise to the occasion in crunch time, more times than not. He’s a smooth player with great vision and skills all around, it’s a good thing that a great experienced player still has room to grow. Thing is, CP3 has one of the highest I.Q. in the game, but being in a deep playoff series gives you uncharted experience. The same easily goes for his teammates, as good as they look they aren’t playing close to what Rivers has envisioned. The bottom line, “Lob City” is playing at a high level despite being raw. This is their first season together, as a core unit and with the coach, they will be tough to beat in the next few years in terms of winning it all.
This was a devastating loss for L.A. We’ve seen OKC go down 3-2 and win the series, there shouldn’t have been much to worry about for them if they had lost. Sure, their backs are against the wall, but the experience brought them that same situation and a successful outcome. The Thunder should feel confident in winning two straight games. The Clippers on the other hand, an unfortunate call on the road puts them in the urgent position to win 8 quarters of basketball. The coach will show up, not sure his players have caught up to his standards quite yet. Rivers will and should be modest and positive because the other L.A. team has a promising present and future.
Miami sealed the deal against Brooklyn tonight, LeBron James split free throws before slapping the ball away from Joe Johnson to end the series. It’s a shame that the topics of Donald Sterling and blown calls have overshadowed James’ 49-point effort. When it comes to Kevin Durant the media is quick to speak about his performance, such as his recent 40-point game. Anyways, I was surprised the Heat even lost a game but it happens. They knocked the Nets out in 5 games, after losing to them all four times in the regular season. Like I said, Indiana and Chicago have dialed Miami’s number in the regular season before, but come playoff time the champions take care of business. Now, they get to rest while watching the Pacers and Wizards go at each other.
Indiana is just so damn soft mentally, that has been the reason they haven’t been contenders in my mind. Formidable like the Bulls a couple years ago, when Derrick Rose used to play, but similar in the sense that no one in the east has what it takes to dethrone Miami. In fact, only Dallas has beaten them in a playoff series since the big three came together, and that was in the Finals.
The Pacers have to use their length to get better defensive angles and more motion plays to score. Paul George is a good play, but the media portrayed this image that he is a star in such little time. That’s not the case so don’t be completely surprised to see him struggle and only score single digits. With that said, he does a little of everything on the court and he’s far from a finished product. I hope the media changes their next big thing mentality to an appreciation of a young players’ skill with untapped potential. That doesn’t mean he won’t get there, he simply has room to grow. Indy needs to use Luis Scola and David West, bigger guys present multiple threats from mid-range. They can shoot, penetrate, put their back to the basket, and pass. The art is passing should garner more attention over the next several years. Move the shooters around to spot up, and have your wings cut to the hoop after setting an off the ball pick.
Washington has to push the ball, if they can continue to rush the Pacers then I believe they will come out victorious. That is a big “if” with an inexperienced team. Every starter can score in more ways than one, the Wizards can go to everyone to put up points. They can also control the pace on defense by putting pressure on the ball-handlers, picking them up at half and 3/4-court. They are the type of team that can get away with guards that pressure and leak out for fastbreaks, they will win most of their secondary break opportunities too. That would then funnel smaller ball-handlers to the paint where the trees are, if they can’t stop them then they have to pick their spots to do this.
Portland showed heart and finally won a game against San Antonio. It’s difficult to beat the man in the mirror. I’m referring to the Damon Lilliard-LaMarcus Aldridge duo to the great Tony Parker-Tim Duncan tandem. They play very similar styles individually and as a unit. That’s excellent news for Trail Blazers fans. The Spurs will most likely advance tonight, and probably play the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. In case you need to know, I’m rooting for the Clippers but objectively believe it’s a done deal in game 6.