Court Vision: Pacers' rising offense
By Rob Mahoney
• Over the last few months, the Pacers have gone about revamping their offense through subtle adjustments, and in the process they've transformed from one of the worst scoring teams in the NBA into an altogether acceptable one. Kevin Arnovitz at TrueHoop examines this makeover, with an emphasis on the importance of David West:
The Pacers are getting into their stuff more quickly, and delivering the ball to West in the high post is often the departure point. West was a pick-and-roll practitioner for most of his career in New Orleans alongside Chris Paul, but he's developed a firm understanding of where shots will come from in the half court. Twice on Monday, West found a mismatch for himself, using a brush screen on the perimeter in tandem with George to draw Caron Butler. Not considered a mobile big, West nevertheless knows when to leak out against a flat-footed defense, and found a couple of buckets in transition as well.
West is doing wonders for George's expanding offensive game, and the two have developed a chemistry that's producing results. "We've been learning each other as the year's gone on and he's in a new role," West said of working with George in a two-man game. One quality that's measurably different about George's game is his awareness of where West is in the half court when George needs help. As teams load up on George, he and West almost telepathically devise a plan to release the pressure. "We talk about passing windows, giving him alleys to make passes," West said. "We pride ourselves on being able to -- if you take away our first option -- get the ball moving to the other side and being able to punish teams on the back side."
• This post is as good excuse as any to revisit Scottie Pippen's addressing Charles Barkley and his "sorry fat butt."
• Zach Lowe: Watching the Suns -- and noticing they've been posting up P.J. Tucker of late -- so you don't have to.
• As Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson grows increasingly more confident in the prospect of keeping the Kings, Akis Yerocostas of Sactown Royalty reflects on the difference in what's at stake for Seattle and Sactown -- two NBA cities with a franchise between them:
Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer aren't going anywhere, should the NBA vote deny their bid for the Sacramento Kings. Hansen is too dedicated, focused, and most importantly, invested in bringing the NBA back to Seattle. Hansen has spent tens of millions of dollars buying land for a new arena. Ballmer could lose 99 percent of his wealth and still be among the 1 percent. Should Seattle lose out on the Kings, there is absolutely no way they'll stop chasing a team, either by buying and moving one or through expansion. They'll be No. 1 on the NBA's list of buyers each and every time someone is up for sale.
But for Sacramento, this is the last chance for the NBA. Mayor Kevin Johnson has moved mountains to bring together a coalition of investors that most didn't believe could be assembled for a small market like Sacramento. Ron Burkle, Mark Mastrov, Vivek Ranadivé and the Jacobs Family: these are people that the NBA would love to have join their ranks (not that they wouldn't love Hansen-Ballmer as well). More importantly, they're willing to do what the current owners of the Kings have not: invest in a new downtown arena. Relocation has only ever been a threat for Sacramento because of the lack of a new arena. Since the early part of the century, the need for a new arena in Sacramento has been known, but no real progress was made until Kevin Johnson became mayor.
• In the West, the Lakers, Jazz and Mavericks are all scrambling to land the eighth seed. In the East -- where the playoff bubble is nonexistent and the eight playoff teams are virtually decided -- the Celtics and Bucks are racing to get out of the eighth seed.
• Miami's Erik Spoelstra provides an important reminder that high-caliber coaching often involves stepping back and not coaching at all.
• Steve McPherson, writing for A Wolf Among Wolves, aptly sums up the aura of Celtics guard Jordan Crawford:
I just couldn’t take my eyes off him when he was on the court. I’d heard about the horror show that is Crawford’s game, but I’d never really paid attention to before. Man, is it grotesque. Every single thing about his body language on the court says, “I’m taking this thing over and I don’t even have to try.” And yet: I don’t think he could take over a game of hopscotch.• James Dolan reportedly did something ridiculous and petty, and I wish I could say that came as a surprise.