That’s the question everyone is asking as the Pacers have jumped out to an 8-0 start. Paul George seems ready to make the jump as an elite player as he’s off to a torrid start with 24.9 points per game, 7.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists while shooting 47.9%. Check out the interview above where he discusses the new season and his desire to help get the Pacers over the top. The additions of Luis Scola and CJ Watson have helped the bench scoring and soon Danny Granger will be back as well. It will be interesting to see how he fits in from a chemistry point of view, but finding minutes for him is a good problem to have.
Of course it’s very early. Miami seems to start slow every year and then they turn it on, but Indiana might make it hard for them to catch up. The Pacers seem focused on getting home court advantage, and desire is an important factor in the long NBA season.
A great lack of support – both physical and financial – is evident throughout the ranks of British basketball, but it’s perhaps no clearer than in the country’s premier basketball league, the BBL. Following multi-million-pound support prior to the 2012 Olympics, UK Sport withdrew it’s funding from the BBL in January 2013, unhappy with the national team’s poor performance at the games (Great Britain won just one 1 their 5 group games, failing to progress to the knockout stages).
But while it could be said that British basketball is struggling, basketball in Britain certainly is not.
A huge and ever expanding base of enthusiasm for american basketball, namely the NBA, is becoming increasingly more visible; take a walk down the high-street and you’ll spot 100 NBA uniforms for every Leicester Riders or London Lions jersey you see. Some of this may be the fashion choice of those emulating the styles of US music artists, but for the most part it’s proud basketball fans. Britain is hungry for the NBA, and in the age of unlimited broadband capacity and Sky Sports HD, it has never been more internationally acessible.
But British fans no longer need only cheer from across the pond.
The NBA has been staging regular season games in the UK since the mid-nineties, but when the New York Knicks met the Detroit Pistons at the O2 Arena in January 2013, the game sold out. That’s a crowd of nearly 19,000, which is just a touch above the average attendance for these teams on the other side of the water. But compare that with the 7,500 that attended the BBL Cup Final that same week, and it becomes a lot more significant. If you want to see what teh Brits are currently betting on as that is always a good indicator of where their hearts lie you can always check out http://betfair.com/ as it’s a popular choice for Brittish sports fans.
Without local pride in any team in ‘The League’, British fan’s interest tends to focus on those franchises boasting the most exciting players, with this driven by the smart way in which players are branded. Brits sporting current NBA champions Miami Heat jerseys will most likely be wearing the no.6 of MVP Lebron James, and they most likely have the no.23 shirt of James’ previous team the Cleveland Cavliers stashed in their wardrobe. Similarly, there has been a notable increase in online viewing figures of LA Clippers games in the past few seasons, who were relatively ignored before acquiring crowd-pleasers Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
Any team giving Howard a max deal is taking some risks, as Howard doesn’t seem to have what it takes to lead a championship team. But Houston might be the best fit, with James Harden established as the clear team leader. Harden is young and doesn’t have the in-your-face edge Kobe Bryant brought to the table. That approach clearly wasn’t the best fit for a fragile Howard.
I would have been shocked had the Spurs found a way to win game 7 on the road after they gave away game 6 at the end of the fourth quarter, so last night’s Heat victory wasn’t a surprise.
Lebron James deserves credit for adjusting to the way the Spurs were letting him take outside shots. He stopped hesitating and started hitting jumpers, and last night he was on fire. He was too much for the tired and ragged Spurs.
Can the Miami Heat come back for a terrible performance again? This seems to be their M.O., but now they’re facing another problem. Something seems to be wrong with Lebron James . . . again. Everyone will try their best to figure out the problem, but it certainly has something to do with the way the San Antonio Spurs are defending him and daring him to shoot. Lebron seems lost.
As usual, Brian Windhorst does an excellent job of covering Lebron’s latest disappearing act in this column.
Meanwhile, Eric Spoelstra seemed most disgusted by the Heat’s defensive effort, and Zach Lowe does an excellent job detailing the defensive breakdowns by the Heat in game 3. Mike Miller is a stud when it comes to shooting three-pointers, but adding him to the rotation seems to have exacerbated the team’s problems on defense.
We’ll wait till the series is over to comment on how this might affect Lebron’s legacy. We’ve seen the Heat come back many times, so now the pressure is really high for Lebron, the Big Three and the rest of the Heat in game 4.