Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 at 9:16 am  |  38 responses

Post Up: In Control

The Pacers and Spurs have the Knicks and Warriors on the brink of elimination.

Pacers 93, Knicks 82 (Pacers lead series 3-1)

With all the chatter and distractions surrounding the Knicks—from injuries, to sickness, to bricked shots, to chemistry issues—it came as no surprise that a focused Indiana team came out last night and won Game 4 handily. Since Saturday night’s loss, the Knicks players and coaches discussed getting back on track and playing the ball that got them this far in the first place. But talk is cheap and Indiana, who has been a model of consistency during their postseason run, continued to stymie and stifle their opponent with lock down defense.

Indiana once again crushed the Knicks inside, owning them on the glass with a 54-36 margin and outscoring them 36-26 in the paint. Paul George was an absolute menace on both ends of the floor. He continued to impress on the defense by holding Melo to 24 points on a woeful 9-23 shooting and tallied 18 points, 14 boards, 7 dimes, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. This kid is going to be a star. Not to be outdone, George Hill had the best game of his playoff career, scoring 26 points on 9-14 shooting. The hometown kid was magnificent, much to the delight of the Indiana crowd.

Frank Vogel has been putting on a coaching clinic while Mike Woodson is showing why his Atlanta Hawks teams never advanced deep into the postseason. Vogel has gotten his guys to buy in defensively and is getting the most out of players like the aforementioned Hill, and Lance Stephenson. He hasn’t tinkered much with his rotations, and doesn’t have to. With the Knicks shooting so poorly, he can coach games exactly the way he pleases without having to make many tactical changes.

Woodson, on the other hand, looks lost. He continues to rely on JR Smith despite his horrific shooting slump, he played Pablo Prigioni just three minutes last night (and declined to comment on it during postgame), and he refuses to search for a spark off the end of the bench from Steve Novak or Chris Copeland. Instead of sticking with the small ball lineups that got them this far, he has tried to match Indiana’s size by going with bigger lineups, but the Knicks simply don’t have the bodies to matchup. Granted, with New York missing so many shots it’s easy to blame Woodson—who has really done a fantastic job with this roster up to this point–but by failing to gameplan effectively and losing control of his team, he has been instrumental in New York’s 3-1 hole.

The Knicks and Pacers head back to Manhattan for Thursday night’s Game 5. The Knicks will go back to the drawing board to try and figure out how to crack the code of Indiana’s defense while the Pacers will keep on doin’ what they’ve been doin’ with a shot to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2000.—Peter Walsh

Spurs 109, Warriors 91 (Spurs lead series 3-2)

“I was terrible, plain and simple. They outplayed us as a team, but individually I didn’t have anything on either end. I was a step slow, shot wasn’t falling. I was trying to make plays, but defensively I lost a little focus. I personally have got to be better.” —Warriors guard Stephen Curry

It was the same formula that we’d seen in Game 4 from the Golden State Warriors that would similarly unfold in Game 5. With a gimpy ankle hobbling the phenom guard Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson unable to find his rhythm, the Warriors were forced to lean on their other perimeter players to carry them forward. Harrison Barnes and Jarrett Jack emerged, doing the heavy lifting needed to keep the team in contention. When Curry found his openings late in the game and Thompson was able to add a key basket to send the game into overtime, the Warriors were able to eek out a Game 4 overtime victory.

In Game 5, Barnes and Jack was carrying the load (45 points combined on 56 percent shooting from the field), and the Warriors were hanging in that purgatory-type land where the Spurs were a few points ahead but never really out of reach. They knew if Curry and Thompson could just kick it in gear for a few short minutes, then maybe they could close the series out at home in Game 6. Yet that wasn’t meant to be, as Thompson wouldn’t attempt a single three-pointer and Curry would be badgered, pestered and unable to crack the San Antonio Spurs code on him. The dynamic backcourt produced an anemic 6-22 shooting performance and just 13 points combined in the final box score. The 109-91 victory of the Spurs was as convincing as the differential in the score, and now they’re one win away from getting back to the Western Conference Finals.

Of course the head coach won’t let his players feel there’s an inevitability of closing this series out. No sir.

“Nobody talks about getting this over with like you’ve got a rash. Like you can take a pill or put some cream on it, it’s going to be gone. This is a war. They’re a class team; they bust their ass at both ends of the floor. It’s not about getting rid of anything. It’s about going and playing and that’s about it.” —Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich

If you’ve heard this recipe before with the Spurs then just be patient as there might be a few among us that are witnessing the systematic process in which San Antonio executes. Tony Parker’s lethal execution (25 points, 10 assists) by navigating to the rim and from the perimeter was to be expected. Tim Duncan’s ownership of the backboard (be it by bank shot or by rebound) served as another reminder of an old man plying his craft after years of seasoning in his profession. Manu Ginobili’s tricks and craftiness were on full display, proving that he is one of our generation’s greatest shooting guards. Yet those guys weren’t who stood out to me on this night.

It was Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.

One was a questionable draft pick whose place in the league was unclear, and the other a guy who lived on the fringes of just staying in the league, are now in many respects the most important players on a championship contender. When someone needs to be locked down on the outside, its up to Leonard and Green. When someone has to make a hustle play or a spot-up three, its Green and Leonard. There are things that Parker, Duncan and Ginobili simply can’t quite do like they used to in their prime, and it falls at the feet of Leonard and Green to pick up the slack.

Leonard and Green combined for 33 points (13-18 shooting), 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals and countless defensive possessions of harassing Curry and Thompson. Their performances were plenty enough for the Spurs on this night. If these two young guys ever find a way to consistently play like this, then not only are the Warriors in real trouble, but the other championship contenders will have to deal with the Big 5 instead of the Big 3.—Eduardo Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan

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  • LLC#12

    Nice to see Indiana and Memphis, 2 teams without NBA championships, getting to the conference finals. The heat only have 2 chips, so SA are the only “traditional powerhouse” team in the next round really.
    As an aside, unless I’m missing something, Prigioni has been OK when he has been used by the Knicks, I wonder why Woodson glued him to the bench? At the start of the year I had Prigioni down as a guy who could maybe surprise people make the all-rookie second team, but he never really got enough burn.

  • Andra

    Barnes is getting better, JR Smith is getting worst

  • Da-Meat-Hook

    With Jarret Jack having another solid game, and it being a great year for backup pgs in general, a buddy of mine and I were debating over which backup point guards in the league could take Mario Chalmers’ starting spot on the Heat.

    I’m not sure if this has already been discussed in another thread, but what do y’all think?

  • Max

    Jarret Jack and Dré Miller for sure.

  • http://twitter.com/vannshy vannshy

    but … Mario Chalmers said is a top-10 PG

    (sorry I had to bring that up)

  • Da-Meat-Hook

    Co-sign. Would you throw Bledsoe in there?

  • Da-Meat-Hook

    Completely warranted lol

  • karl

    Yep. Bledsoe’s a good one.
    Possibly Patrick Beverly and Reggie Jackson too if given a year to mature and make better in game decisions.

  • 23

    Norris Cole? hahaha Lol. But seriously Norris Cole.

  • LLC#12

    Jason Kidd & Aaron Brooks? Maybe a season or two ago. Nate Robinson & Kirk Hinrich? (Neither would start if the Bulls were healthy) Brandon Knight? I’d love to see the Heat pick up Calderon. He has his shortcomings on D, but he would rack up so many assists on that Heat team.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Still got Indiana in 5. Ha

  • Da-Meat-Hook

    LOL I agree. I think it’s only a matter of time.

  • RayJr

    Leonard and Green are just exhausting Curry and Klay looks exhausted trying to keep up with Parker on defense. Never thought the Warriors would turn into the Jack n Barnes show but if they hadn’t played well the last two games Warriors would already be done. I think these teams are fairly equal personnel wise BUT Popovich is clearly showing that he’s the real difference in this series with his game-by-game adjustments.

  • Da-Meat-Hook

    I can see them hovering around Chalmers’ level given a few years, but I’m more focused on backup PGs right now.

    Thoughts on Bayless (just throwing some names out there)?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Jack sure, but Not Andre Miller, not even a little. He’s a worse defender and he can’t shoot.
    Miami needs a PG who is a good defender and can shoot.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    not many. Jarret Jack. That’s about it.

  • davidR

    SA is doing a good job of jamming klay and curry on those off ball screens. it doesn’t help that curry has ankle issues. klay tends to have no show games like last night.

    either way, those 2 need to find a way to attack the basket, cuz they’re struggling with their shots

  • RayJr

    Agreed. They are tiring them out having them run through bodies to try to get open and then they take the next couple of offensive plays off watching Jack or Barnes go one on one.
    If Curry and Klay can have decent games and everyone keeps playing well, the Warriors can still upset. However, the Spurs are the Spurs though so the experience is giving them the edge.

  • Caboose

    1. Holy sh!t, did you see how good Shumpert was??
    2. The Spurs’ defense is night and day with Tim Duncan in or out.
    3. It really bothered me how lazy TMac was when he actually got minutes. This is your one chance to prove yourself to Pop and you jog up and down the court? While guys like Danny Green who played the whole game still sprint as hard as they can?
    4. How nuts would an Indiana Memphis Finals be?

  • RayJr

    TMac didn’t look lazy. He looked out of shape, heavy, and he’s not going to be that same TMac that you are expecting.

  • spit hot fiyah

    no, he is not a starter on a playoff team. he could could start for some lottery teams though. his value is higher as a bench player reaking havoc.

  • Da-Meat-Hook

    I see your point, although I think Andre Miller is a better floor general with a higher basketball IQ, his weaknesses are the same traits Miami actually needs for their pg.

    How do you think Bledsoe, Norris Cole, Hinrich, Knight (I could be mistaken, but I think Calderon was the starter by season’s end) or Bayless stack up to what Chalmers has to offer?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Why would Miami need a floor general? You are just taking the ball away from LeBron. That’s not a positive.
    Bledsoe can’t shoot, at all.
    Cole is too inconsistent
    Hinrich is probably Chalmers equal. But he’s always hurt.
    Bayless is a scorer. I wouldn’t want him being my Point Guard.
    Brandon Knight is a shooting guard. He’s essentially Leandro Barbosa.

  • Max

    4. My 2 favourite teams in the L.
    That would be so sweet.

  • Max

    That old dude in Denver.

  • Max

    No, I feel like people are really overrating him.
    On D he’s a beast for sure, but on O he struggles.

  • Max

    That’s true, not the right fit I guess.

  • Da-Meat-Hook

    -That’s why I agreed with you on Miller.
    -Bledsoe can’t shoot, but I’d say Chalmers’ career 42% fg makes him a streaky shooter at best.
    -Knight and Bayless are more scorers than distributors, but we agreed that floor generals aren’t as necessary on the Heat.
    - Cole is inconsist, but Chalmers isn’t exactly the pillar of consistancy any he may actually lead the league in brain-farts.

    For a point guard who has the luxury of focusing all of his energy on defending (while playing alongside elite to very solid defenders) and knocking down wide open jumpers, I think Chalmers is so-so and the Heat could replace him with some of the aforementioned without missing a beat and maybe even improving slightly.

    I’m not entirely disagreeing with you, I just think it’s important to remember how good playing alongside multiple stars (Lebron James in particular)makes average to below average point guards look better than the really are.

    Did I mention that I hate Mario Chalmers yet?!

  • Da-Meat-Hook

    True, but how many playoff teams could Chalmers start on aside from the Heat?
    I feel like the Heat are a different breed of team that ask very little of their pg when compared to other teams.
    Chalmers averages 8/3/2 on 42% despite A LOT of open looks and rarely if ever having to deal with the defensive pressure most pgs have to face.

  • Lucentum

    Do you think Calderon would be a good addition to the Heat?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Ehh, he wouldn’t hurt the offense at all. But he would really damage the defense.

  • Junior Taylor

    I had IND winning this series in 5 or 6 mainly because IND at their very best is better than NY’s best. It’s just a terrible matchup for the Knicks given that the Knicks’ weaknesses (rebounding/iso-ball) just happens to be IND’s strengths (rebounding/defense).

  • davidR

    i think bayless is better suited as a scorer off the bench. kind of like what jr smith and crawford are currently

  • davidR

    3. he did get an assist and 2 blocks in 4 minutes haha

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Mario Chalmers is better than you are giving him credit for.
    First of all, he shot 7 shots a game. 4 of them were three’s.
    41% from 3 (57% of his total shots)
    43% from the field (43% of his total shots)
    Makes sense right?
    Chalmers is much more consistent then Norris Cole, check this out…..
    —– > http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/c/chalmma01/gamelog/2013/
    —– > http://www.basketball- reference.com/players/c/coleno01/gamelog/2013/
    I respect your opinion, I just think you are selling Chalmers short.

  • http://twitter.com/vannshy vannshy

    as a Spurs fan im expecting him to score 13points in 94seconds against the opposing team

  • Da-Meat-Hook

    Fare argument, nbk.

  • RayJr

    lol maybe tonight