Posts Tagged ‘Indy’

Many would agree that the Miami Heat will make it back to the NBA Finals. If you look at the Eastern Conference there are some roadblocks but those blocks may not be sturdy enough to contain the Heat. The Pacers have exploited their weaknesses over the past two seasons and now look like the favorite to beat them out of the East. Now when I say favorite, I’m only saying that they have beaten them in a more convincing manner than the other top teams in the East. With that being said I don’t expect to see LeBron James tweeting from home during the finals.

If Miami makes it to the finals I expect them to win. I know that they’re lacking size and depth up front but looking at the big’s on the top teams the only team that could pose a threat is the San Antonio Spurs with Tim Duncan and likes of “Tiaaago Splitter” like ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith likes to say. But recent trends have shown that the San Antonio Spurs will dominate the regular season and fall short in the playoffs. With that being said it’s hard for me to expect them to make it to the finals this season especially seeing how great western teams are playing this year.

The Oklahoma City Thunder has shown that they miss the presence of James Harden and along with that, missing a post player forces them to play a run-n-gun style constantly. Sure Perkins is a great defender but when he has to guard either Bosh or Shane Battier he’s forced to leave the paint further than he would like to, rendering him to almost being ineffective. Ibaka might have a good scoring output one game but don’t expect that to be a constant variable in a seven game series.

The Clippers are tricky. Sometimes I look at them and try to figure out how they even lose games then other times their weaknesses are too much for them to overcome. They have two strong athletic big men who can pose a threat to Miami but at some point not being able to fully get a post-game going can hurt them. Blake Griffin has an advantage on most power forwards in the NBA because of his speed. If they’re in the finals against Miami whoever is going to be on him, probably Battier and LeBron at some point, will be able to keep up with him. He can back people down but without true post moves he’ll basically be aiming for the backboard hoping that it goes in. True post players are now becoming extinct; either you’re a face-up player or an athletic slasher. But that’s an article for another day.


Memphis and Utah both have good big men that could start for any team in the league but they’re missing too much on the wings. Memphis just doesn’t seem to play with the same energy they had before the Rudy Gay trade and let’s face it; Utah won’t even make it out of the first round. Utah might not even make it to the playoffs with the Lakers right on their tail. Houston is also in that mix but unless they hit a ton of three’s like they did against Golden State for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs they’ll be sitting at home for the second round.

But let’s say the Heat don’t make it and a team like the Pacers can reach the finals or even the Celtics or Knicks can get over their struggles and turn things around. How would they match up against the over powered West in a seven game series? If you check Hollinger’s playoff odds for this this year a lot of the western teams have a shot at winning 60+ games. The odds show that the Pacers would finish second in the Eastern Conference with a record of 52-30, which isn’t bad but if they were in the Western Conference that would only be good enough for 7th place… 7th place. So can an Eastern team that isn’t the Miami Heat really be a challenge to a Western opponent? I know records are just more numbers but sometimes they are hard to argue with. Sure the Pacers can beat the Heat but how do they match up against teams like OKC and the Spurs who they’ve struggled with in the past.


Indiana’s game is inside-out. They attack the high post with David west and Hibbert is there to beat defenders with rare jump hooks and to clean up misses with put backs. Sometimes the wings get too carried away and forget about the clear advantages that they have in the paint. But a team like the Thunder would be more comfortable with that matchup because their big men can stay home a little more. David West is a hard cover for anyone but if you ask Serge Ibaka who he would rather be chasing around between possible finals forwards (David West, LeBron James, Shane Battier, etc.), without a doubt he would say West all day.

The Knicks have shown shades of being great and have shown that if Melo is off you can’t count on the supporting cast to pick up the weight. The main reason for their inconsistencies on the offensive end is because of their high three point attempts. “You live by the three and you die by the three” is a quote that seems to come out of every commentator’s mouth when talking about the Knicks. They don’t exactly have an all-around game on offense. They can get up and down with anyone but when it comes down to the stretch and you need easy baskets it’s hard for them to get.

Carmelo can get a last second shot to win a game but why even be in that situation where you need one. One thing I love about players like LeBron is how he can take over a game before things get too tight. When that clock is running down he’s already done his damage on both ends of the court so that when that clock gets down to just seconds remaining all they have to worry about is playing defense. The Knicks usually don’t have that option when facing a formidable opponent. This is a very dangerous team but their flaws can be dissected easily.

Yes Melo can hit a shot from anywhere on the court but when it’s late in the game you need easy buckets and often we see Melo put into a one-on-one situations with minimum off-ball movement from the other players. When he’s in the game his teammates tend to stand around and watch Melo go to work. In today’s NBA you need more than one guy as your focal point. Even if you have one amazing superstar player it doesn’t matter how much he scores; if no one else is contributing that team will never get close to a championship.

The Chicago Bulls are a team that has shown us a couple things. They’re excellent on defense and will fight you to the end. But with Derrick Rose being out for this long there’s no way they’re in the championship talk. If he comes back they’ll be a better team but it’s a little bit too late to try to piece things together and make an historic run. The Celtics are in that same category. Yes they have played better since Rondo has gone down but to make a serious playoff push without him is a bit farfetched. Barbosa is out as well and without these guys who can really push the ball the Celtics won’t be able to fully gain control of some games.

Early in the season it was even a question if they would make the playoffs or not but now we’re seeing a clear drop off from the 8th seed Milwaukee Bucks and the rest of the conference. Boston will have to really stink it up to miss the playoffs and let the Bucks surpass them and to let a team like Detroit Pistons or Toronto Raptors in. But that just won’t happen. At the bottom of the Eastern Conference it’s not really a horse race. It’s more like three snails trying to keep up with tortoise. In other words it’s not too competitive.


At the end of the day I think we’ll see a repeat of last year’s finals. The Miami Heat will Face off against the Oklahoma City Thunder and they will dismantle them like they have done time and time again. The West will be Hell to get through and OKC will earn more respect throughout the league for doing so, but In the end they will just fall short. Their up tempo game is good enough to get past those western teams but getting in that type of game with Miami is exactly what they want. They will stretch them out on offense, then force turnovers and cause frustration on defense. LeBron James has shown us why he’s the best player in the league and having a shot at winning a consecutive championship will only motivate him even more. KD will have his turn but right now it’s clear that LeBron and company are just too much to handle.

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Danny Granger made his first appearance of the year in the Pacers’ third meeting against the Pistons this season.  After shooting 1 of 10 from the field against their sub-par defense, as we expected,  he still has quite some time to fully get back into the swing of things. But I can say that I was pleased with some of the shots he took.  With time he will get back to playing like the Danny we’re all accustomed to seeing.

In his home debut against the Warriors the only thing that I was thinking about was the future of the team. After Paul George came down and knocked down a three right in the face of a defender and the production team cut to a view of the crowd all I saw was over joyous Pacer fans in #24 jersey’s.

The Warriors called a timeout and the look of confidence on Paul George’s face added fuel to the already ecstatic crowd. The more I look at Granger’s body language it’s clear that he knows his time in Indy is coming to an end and he’s not too happy about it. Once he gets more acclimated with the team things will be fine for the remainder of the year but i don’t see a scenario where he gets resigned. Maybe he’ll take less money but at this point who knows.

Many people are speculating when Granger will be put back into the starting unit. If it was up to me I would have a serious conversation with Danny and ask him about being a sixth man. The starting unit has built up a lot of chemistry together and so far it’s won them a lot of games. Offensively they struggle but the main issue is their bench production. I don’t think putting Lance Stephenson back on the bench to lead the second unit is the answer to your problems.

Paul George is blossoming into a star and splitting shots with Granger could slow down that development process. If Granger is coming off the bench with the second unit he will have more than half of the scoring duties with that scorer-less unit. Coming off the bench could be beneficial in many different areas for the Pacers. But that’s just my opinion on that. Coach Vogel has made it clear that at some point Granger will be back as a starter, just depends on the timing.

To throw a visual out there look at the lineup with Danny as a starter and you judge if having him come off the bench would be a bad thing.

Starters:

PG: George Hill SG: Paul George SF: Danny Granger PF: David West C: Roy Hibbert

2nd Unit:

PG: DJ Augustine SG: Lance Stephenson (With occasional minutes from Orlando Johnson) SF: Gerald Green/Sam Young??? PF: Tyler Hansbrough C: Ian Mahinmi

Or would you rather have Danny come in and score at will with that second unit that has deficiencies at the small forward position and a need for more bench scoring. If you look at championship teams in the past a lot of them had excellent bench production. The best example of that is the 2011 Dallas Mavericks. Even without Caron Butler in the starting lineup they still had enough bench production to defeat the Miami Heat in a tough series.

Sure you could leave Granger or Paul George in with the bench but having Granger with the second unit will allow both of them to have equal time to rest. Plus with Granger coming off a knee injury no one knows if he can defend elite players as well as he could before.

It’s clear that coach Vogel doesn’t have a lot of faith in Gerald Green seeing that he lost his minutes to Orlando Johnson and didn’t play for a stretch of nine games. Sam young is a tough defender who Vogel has no problem throwing on the opposing teams’ best player but offensively he’s a liability.

DJ Augustine has definently had his scoring woes all season and has yet to really prove that signing him was a good idea. There’s no one on that second unit that just pops out as a guy who can get the job done as the starters rest.

When it all comes down to it there’s no doubt in my mind that the Pacers will be fine. No matter where he is on the depth chart he’ll do more good than bad. I just see a sixth man role as being more beneficial to the team.

Having one of your best players come off the bench has worked for teams in years past like the San Antonio Spurs with Manu Ginobili and the Los Angeles Lakers back when Lamar Odom was playing at a high level.  It’s worked more recently with the Oklahoma City Thunder in last years championship run when they had James Harden. I can see this working for the Pacers if they were to do this.

If the Pacers’ front office knows that they have no intention on resigning Granger to a contract extension they should do what’s best for the team now.  If they had success with a Granger-less roster for 55 games  i see no problem with him coming in off the bench and giving a huge boost to that second unit. It may hurt his pride and take a shot to his ego but if he loves his teammates and the city of Indianapolis he should be willing to do whatever the organization thinks is best.

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In the Past few weeks I have been all for trading Granger, before that i was against it. Right now I’m back to being against it, kind of. If I go back and forth with my thoughts in this article it’s because this move could change everything. It could create a domino effect that I’m not sure we’ll be able to benefit from right away.

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As you all know, Paul George is becoming the new face of the franchise. He’s doing everything on the court that you could ask for. He’s scoring, rebounding, and has really found patience on the offensive end. Defensively he’s great too. But even with his scoring numbers up it’s still not enough to move the Pacers out of the 29th rank in scoring. Yeah… they’re close to dead last in points per game. Their record is truly a testament to how great their defense is rather than their offensive production.

With Danny coming back by the All-Star break it can only help them. When you’re the 29th ranked team in scoring there’s only room for improvement. Trading away a scorer and leader like Danny could be a bad thing. Also, lets not forget that he’s a good defender as well. There’s not many players on the market that can really fill his shoes and make an impact like he can. There’s talent out there but right now the Pacers need more than hopes.

If you trade Danny there’s no guarantee that whoever they get for him will stay in Indy. If a player does want to stay most likely they will want to get paid and the Pacers front office doesn’t just pay people for potential.

George Hill and Roy Hibbert got paid because they earned it. Hibbert may not be showing that this season but the fact of the matter is he show’s constant improvement and had the best season of his career. We saw how he can be a game changer.

The Pacers still have to resign David West at this moment no one knows what will happen with that. Next season they could lose Granger possibly and West. What will they have after that? Losing those two veteran leaders is a lot. But resigning both of them could be hard to do when you take salary cap space into consideration. Especially with this luxury tax coming into play for next season it will be hard for a lot of teams to keep certain players.

Bob Kravitz from the Indianapolis Star wrote a great piece on the Pacers being good but still having something missing. He feels that in order for them to really contend they will have to make some moves before this season’s trade deadline.

I agree with him when he says that they need a dynamic scorer off the bench, but at what cost?Would the Pacers even get enough back to have a great scorer off the bench? If they make a move it will either be hit or miss. I don’t see too many players with great upside going to Indy.

Just as Kravitz said in his article, move Tyler Hansbrough, and make Gerald Green available. I don’t agree with him when he says trade Lance Stephenson, but we can agree to disagree on that.

The one thing that we are both saying is keep Granger at all cost. Paul George is blossoming into a star but their leader is without a doubt still Danny. George has stepped up and took leadership as most players should do when the top dog is out, but the true leader of that squad is Danny. They’re close to contention and getting rid of Danny now would be a huge mistake

The Houston Rockets have been in all the trade rumors when it comes to acquiring Granger. Unless Houston is willing to let James Harden and Chandler Parsons go there’s no one on that roster that is worth trading for.

But we all know Harden isn’t going anywhere for a long time. I mentioned other players in my article, “Potential Moves For The Indiana Pacers“, but realistically there’s not a lot of available players that can replace Danny and all of his intangibles.

If i were Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers General Manager, I would do everything in my power to keep Danny a Pacer and resign David West. I would hate trade Tyler Hansbrough because of the hustle and energy that he provides off the bench but they need to win now. Leave the starting lineup together and move players off of the bench. Trading Danny is not the answer.

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  Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last several months you know that Paul George has become the new go-to-guy for the Indiana Pacers. All of his stats are up and he also has more double-double’s this season than what he had in his first two years combined. So far he’s made his first all-star team and is the front runner to win the Most Improved Player of the Year Award. But all of this might not have happened if Danny Granger wasn’t out with knee tendinitis.

The front office and the people of Indianapolis have gravitated towards Paul George so what does this mean for Granger’s future with this organization? If you’ve ever typed in his name on twitter or even gone to a Pacer game you will know that the fans are not too fond of him. They feel that he hasn’t worked on his game enough to reach his full potential.. After his all-star season where he scored 25 ppg, the people expected him to continue to blossom into this scoring machine. But what they don’t know is that he only scored at that rate because of their former head coach’s (Jim O’Brien) system. His shot attempts were way higher in that system than what they are with coach Vogel.

With pieces falling into place for Indy who is expendable? Will they resign David West or make a move for the best available option? DJ Augustine has been a bust of a pick up for them and at one point he lost the back up point guard position to rookie Ben Hansbrough. DJ was suppose to provide energy and scoring off the bench but just hasn’t produced like they would hope.

I can see the Pacers making a package deal with Granger, DJ, and maybe West (Depending on if they want to give him a contract extension). But who could we get in return? Could they make a move for Indiana native Zach Randolph? Memphis has been cleaning house to avoid penalties from the luxury tax next season. After acquiring Ed Davis, a young big man with a promising future, they could decide to eventually move Randolph.

Some other people who have been in trade talks are J.J. Redick and Aaron Afflalo, Avery Bradley, Monta Ellis, Nick Young, Thaddeus Young, Andre Iguodala, Marcus Thornton and Vince Carter. When the Pacers get rid of Granger they will most likely move the 6’10 Paul George from shooting guard to small forward. Lance Stephenson is a capable guard but he’s no starter. They will nedd help at the shooting guard position.

J.J. Redick is a great shooter and hustles on defense but other players that I’ve named would make more sense. Monta Ellis would give the Pacers that instant offense that they’ve been missing for quite some time but the downside to Ellis is his attitude. At times he can be hard to please. His on-ball defense can be sketchy at times as well. He can get steals in the passing lane but more times than none you’ll get burnt from taking that risk.

Then there’s Nick Young and Marcus Thorton. Young isn’t consistent enough nor is he a defender that Coach Vogel would have confidence in. Lance Stephenson would take his starting spot before the season even starts. Marcus Thorton is a guy who can flat out fill it up. I can see him fitting in well with this current roster.

Vince Carter and Thaddeus Young are two other guys who’s names have been floating around also. The Pacers will not make a move for Vince Carter, that should be a given for obvious reasons. Young is very doubtful to me as well. He’ll bring more size and athleticism which is a good thing but it’s not really needed as much as scoring.

The next player would be a great fit but would be a risky trade, that player is the “Poor Man’s LeBron,” Andre Iguodala. He’s one of the most athletic guys in the league and also has good offensive skills, but consistency has been a problem for him this season but we all know what he can do when fully engaged. But the one part of his game that separates him from the other guys that I have named is his defense. He is for sure one of the best defensive guys in the league and if he isn’t feeling it on offense he’ll most likely always be solid on defense.

There are plenty of other names that have been floating around but as far as the Indiana Pacers go i say that these guys make the most sense for their roster needs. Granger most likely will not be traded this season because of his knee issues but anything could happen. I know for a fact that he will not be wearing the Pacer blue and gold for much longer. He will have to play at his absolute best when he returns if he wants any hope of staying in Indy.

A lot of people had their doubts about the Super Bowl being here in Indy. They said our city would be too small and that the weather would be terrible. I was on twitter looking at tweets from non Hoosiers and a lot of the tweets were just blasting Indiana. People who have never been to Indiana have this perception that it’s nothing but hicks and farms. Well in my opinion we proved those people wrong.

Indianapolis did a great job of hosting the Super Bowl. The size of downtown Indy was the key to this success. Everything in the downtown area is within a short walking distance. Unlike last year’s Super Bowl in Dallas you didn’t have to travel far to get to your destinations. Dallas is a prime example that bigger doesn’t always equal better. On top of the size of Dallas the weather was a huge issue as well. People absolutely hated traveling those long distances during the heavy snow storm. Even if the weather was bad here in Indy it would not have been that big of a problem. People could get where they needed to go with little to no problem.

While watching the news and ESPN this week it was obvious that everyone had the same thoughts on the city. They loved the Hoosier hospitality, and they loved how all the events and attractions were centrally located. Sure you can have this game in more luxurious of cities but at the end of the day there are certain needs that you have to address to pull off a huge event such as the Super Bowl, Indy addressed them all. I can only count on one hand how many complaints I heard all week-long and those were mostly about the parking. With any huge event there’s always going to be over-priced parking and trouble finding it.

Another good thing about last week is the influx of celebrities and athletes that came to Indy. With them coming here it helped a ton of clubs and local businesses. Even though it cost a pretty penny to book these big names a lot of these venues probably still made more in a night then they would in a week. Celebs are already spending a ton of money then you have to take into account how many people they attracted to these different venues.

Now to the game, there was no doubt that this game was going to be compelling. From start to finish it had me on my toes and alert. The whole time I was watching I couldn’t help but to think about the bad things that could possibly happen downtown if the Patriots won here. After the late touchdown by Ahmad Bradshaw I knew that it was too much time to give Tom Brady.

The Giants caught a break three times in their final two drives. First Wes Welker couldn’t hang onto a slightly high thrown ball from Brady on a crucial third down. I thought for sure he would’ve caught that and turned up field for at least a 10 yard gain. If he catches that pass then that gives them enough room to run the clock out. Then on the next drive Dion Branch drops a tipped ball that would have gained them at least 30 to 40 yards. With the game on the line the Patriots came within about a Gronkowski ankle short of an amazing victory.

If Gronk had been healthy I believe he would’ve caught that tipped hail-mary pass. He was a few inches short of being right there. Giant’s fans should be thanking Bernard Pollard (Baltimore Ravens) for his hit on Gronk in the AFC championship game. If he caught that ball it would’ve been a heart breaker. If he came in a tucked that ball away for the touchdown it would’ve gone down as one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history

This week made a lot of Hoosiers proud to be Hoosiers. I think it’s safe to say that Indianapolis can pull off hosting huge events. Recently we’ve shown that with the Final Four two years ago, and races like the Indy 500. We’re the 12th largest city in the United States. I think it’s time that we get some recognition for our great city. Overall this past week was greater beyond many people’s expectations.

When you’re a sports  fan you usually can’t help but to be bias sometimes. I can’t stress it enough how happy I was that the Patriots lost here in Indianapolis. Being a Colt’s fan it would’ve been hard to watch New England players prance around the field celebrating a Super Bowl Victory. Having New England fans running downtown with high spirits would’ve been terrible. I’m so glad that the G-Men didn’t choke in the big game.

Going into Sunday’s game it was funny to me how people had the Giants ass the underdog’s. Have no clue at all how that’s possible. Sure New England had a better record but it was obvious who the better team going into that game was. The Giants are balanced on both sides of the ball. They’re not one-sided  like the Pats. Even with Gronk being hurt I still kept hearing people go with the Patriots as the victors. A healthy Gronk would’ve helped but if you really paid attention to that game the Pats had plenty of chances to take complete control of the game without him.

There were many doubts about Eli Manning and his ability before this season. A lot of people were not ready to give him a seat at the elite QB table, but after this season i think you have to pull one out for him. He has the clutch gene that every QB needs and he also doesn’t get rattled. He’s proven that he is elite with his two Super Bowl titles and two MVP awards. He comes through when you need him the most.

I’m pretty sure M.I.A. wasn’t the only one who wanted to flip the bird to the world. The G-Men have been criticized all season about their mental toughness  and the continuity of their locker room. Talks about players being traded or cut, and coaches on the hot seat would make a lesser team crumble. The Giants used all the things said about them as fuel. This fuel motivated that whole roster and look where they’re at now… They’re back home in New York with the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy. Their lack of mental toughness that people criticized them about is what got them through this long journey. They proved the world wrong and showed that they could overcome.

 

Bulls vs. Pacers

People are making to big of a deal about the Bulls lack of playing in this series. When you play a team in the same division as you of course you’re going to know how to play them. People are saying “Oh the Bulls are not the team to beat in the east” (which they’re not) and saying “If they let the Pacers out play them for two games they can’t handle anyone else”. Look, the fact of the matter is when you play a team X amount of times during the year you’re going to know tendencies of that team, how to beat them defensively, overall you just know exactly what your going to get. Do i believe Indy will get at most one game on them? Yes. But just don’t make a big deal out of this series. Indy may not be a top team in the league this year but one thing is for sure, the Pacers are flat out tough on the court. They hustle just as hard as the top teams in the league they only have a lack of talent at certain positions and that is what is holding this team back.

Spurs vs. Gizzlies

This is a very odd match up between a 1 and 8 seed. The Grizzlies said they wanted the Spurs because they felt like that was the best match-up for them. which is reasonable after almost sweeping them during the season. I feel like this series could go either way. Memphis has beaten top teams constantly all year. They’ve beat OKC, LA, Orlando, NY, Chicago, and Dallas twice this season. Then they’ve beaten the Spurs the 3-4 times that they met this season so it’s pretty easy to see why they would rather play San Antonio instead of LA (But who wouldn’t). Everything seems to be going in the Grizzlies favor in this series. Ginobili gets hurt right before the playoffs and that’s great for Memphis. Then also the fact that they’ve had their number all year should be a huge confidence booster for them. Will Memphis win the championship this year? No, we all know they will not do that but they can cause a great upset in basketball and give us all something to talk about.

Celtics Vs. Knicks

This is one of the most controversial series this year. So far there has been bad calls left and right and plenty of bone head mistakes by the Knicks and Celtics both. First off the fact NY stayed in this second game kind of adds to the fact that Melo is a one of a kind player. When he gets hot it’s impossible to stop a player like that from doing what he wants. Melo was going off and had Paul Pierce guarding him. Pierce is one of the best defensive small forwards in the league. Melo put that Knicks team on his back until the last few minutes of that game when Doc Rivers finally decides to throw two defenders his way.

On the Celtics part they’re obviously not the same team they’ve been. On defense theyre pretty weak down low. There’s no force down there that would make you second think about pounding the ball inside. Then Pierce has been struggling offensively also. Any time Rondo has to drop 30 points you know somebody in that big three is struggling. Game two Rondo had 30 points and ONLY 7 assist. that’s not Rondo like or Boston Celtic like. I know that Pierce will turn it around for the rest of the series. I have this series going to Boston in 6 games.

Lakers Vs. Hornets

To make this short LA will win this series in 5 games. NO got the first game on them but Chris Paul could not be stopped. Also their bigs frustrated Pau Gasol. With the hornets back up center (Arron Gray) hurt i don’t think we’ll see the same kind of effort on the boards or defensively. Also CP3 isn’t going to put up 33 points 14 ast and 7 rebounds every game. He’ll slow down some. LA will most likely dominate for the rest of this series.

Other Predictions

  1. Hawks and Orlando : Could go either way but most likely Orlando
  2. Denver vs. OKC: OKC in 7 games
  3. Miami Vs. Philly: Miami get’s the sweep
  4. Dallas vs. Portland: Maybe Dallas in 5 games/ Dallas in 7 games