The Indiana Pacers have the odds stacked against them facing the Miami Heat, but the team matches up well against Miami, and things could get very interesting if Lance Stephenson continues his impressive development as a player.
Adrian Wojnarowski has a nice profile of Stephenson, explaining how Larry Bird discovered him with a huge assist from another blast from the past, former Cleveland State coach and basketball guru Kevin Mackey.
Indian has size and they know how to play defense. But they’re young and their perimeter players are inconsistent. So they need several of these guys to step up against Miami, and Stephenson has the kind of talent that can thrive in these settings. But, he’s had to mature a lot these past three years, and now we’ll see if he’s ready for the big stage.
While some might call Stephenson a head case, you could say the same about Lebron James who has had some of the biggest post season meltdowns in NBA history. So let’s see if Stephenson can perform at a high level, and then let’s see how Lebron responds.
The game wasn’t close, but we’ve seen Memphis come back repeatedly after Game 1 losses, so we won’t make too much of this game. The question will be whether a young team like the Grizzlies can rise to the occasion in the conference finals against a veteran team like the Spurs. I Like the Spurs in this series, but game 1 outcomes can be deceiving. The Spurs have to hold the home court in this next game.
Even though he just recently finished his sophomore season at the University of Wisconsin, Traevon Jackson comes across just like his game- confident, smooth and mature.
For being just 20 years old, he’s so calm and composed, you can’t help but think about where you were in life at 20….and then sheepishly quit punishing yourself.
Some of that confidence undoubtedly comes from his famous genetics and being the son of NBA star player Jim Jackson, but the greater part of it comes from his faith and approach to life, off the court.
What was your experience like playing in the NCAA Tournament?
“Obviously, it didn’t end the way we wanted it to. Just the fact of me playing in the tournament was great because it’s the attitude of “loser goes home” and unfortunately we had to go home. But it really puts into perspective what you need to do to prepare for it going forward. And learning from that this year helps us next year.”
Is there added pressure based on who your dad is to succeed? What’s the dynamic of that like?
“Growing up, I felt it more than I do now, but now I don’t even think about it at all, actually. The pressure that I feel now the most is pleasing the Lord. That may sound cliché, but that’s an everyday type of task and the biggest thing for me. As long as I continue to grow in that aspect, there is no other question.”
Who would win a game of one on one right now?
“Oh, me of course (laughing). Easily. He can beat me in golf and all the other, cards, all that stuff, but he’s not beating me on the court.”
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau got hit with a $35,000 for suggesting that Lebron James flopped the other night after being shoved by Nazr Mohammed. Anyone who reads this blog knows I’m not a fan of traitor Lebron, but that claim is pretty ridiculous. Mohammed shoved Lebron out of the blue, and I’m not at all surprised that he naturally fell backwards. Thibodeau should have been fined.
That said, Thibodeau’s strategy versus Lebron is brilliant, even with some execution issues like Mohammed’s stupid shove. The idea is to get into Lebron’s head, and frankly Lebron had a bad game but was bailed out by his teammates. It may not lead to a Bulls win since they’re so overmatched, but with Lebron you have to challenge him physically and mentally as we’ve seen him wilt many times before both when he played for the Cavs and in 2011 with the Heat.
Of course, Lebron can also rise to the occasion and make you pay for it, but leaving him alone spells certain defeat for most teams. It’s playoff basketball and you have to challenge Lebron and hope he suffers a meltdown or at least starts altering his game.
Pretty much all of us have had something to say about the Derrick Rose saga, and most of the comments have been critical. Now we have an interesting perspective from Grant Hill, who is convinced he returned too soon from a serious ankle injury after he too was cleared to play by his doctors.
Part of the Rose controversy was fueled by Rose’s own brother, who implied Rose didn’t want to return so fast to a team that had no chance of winning a title. That statement coupled with the amazing run by this depleted Bulls team has certainly heightened the scrutiny on Rose. He’s also said very little, so that also fuels the wild speculation. So the feeding frenzy is partly his own fault.
That said, it all comes back to the hard fact that Rose suffered a very serious knee injury, and the fact he’s been cleared by doctors to play doesn’t settle the issue of whether he should be out there. Only he knows how his knee feels.
I don’t think Rose owes his team to go out there if he’s still concerned about his knee. But from a PR perspective he should probably speak up about his condition.