Tag Archives: George Hill

LION FACE/LEMON FACE 4/25/13: ONE GOOD GAME OUT OF THREE AIN’T BAD

 

Lion Face. Lemon Face. Good moments. Bad moments. You guys know the drill by now. Let’s do this.

Lion Face: Roy Hibbert’s dunk

Few men have done things like this to Ivan Johnson and lived to tell about it. Hibbert managed to save his best dunk of the year for the playoffs with this one. Just to show off, Hibbert would then proceed to knock down a three pointer at the end of the first quarter that was eventually waved off as it came a split second after the clock expired. Still though, a solid two minute stretch for Hibbert.

Lemon Face: Danny Crawford

Greg Smith threw down a strong dunk over Serge Ibaka, then got T’d up by Danny Crawford because he…well you see you can’t…uhhhh…yeah…Apparently Smith looked too menacingly toward Ibaka which drew him a technical. A rare controversial call from one of the Crawford brothers. Who would have guessed?

Lion Face: The George Boys

Paul George and George Hill carried the load for Indiana last night by providing 49 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, and 6 steals between them. The G2 zone at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse was rocking as the Pacers took care of business in a series that can’t conclude quick enough.

Lemon Face: Patrick Beverley’s dirty play

GIF via SBNation

In the second quarter of the Thunder-Rockets game, Russell Westbrook was casually bringing the ball up the court to call a timeout as teams tend to do literally hundreds of time every season. Rather than allowing Westbrook to get the easy timeout, Beverley instead attempted a steal the ball. While I’m all for playing until the whistle blows, the angle Beverley took resulted in him colliding with Westbrook’s knee which initially looked like it caused damage. Westbrook would continue to play on, but the jostling between Westbrook and Beverley may be something to watch for the rest of the series as there is clearly bad blood between the two.

Lion Face: Pacers end of quarter play

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARB85gVzHpQ

Play of the night? Play of the night.

Lemon Face: Houston’s end of game possession

With 11 seconds remaining and trailing by four points, Houston had the ball following a missed Kevin Martin free throw. In this situation, you either want an extremely quick two or relative quick three point attempt. The opposite of what you want is running nearly 10 seconds off the clock and getting a seven foot floater out of it. Patrick Beverley knocked down the shot, but that effectively ended any chance that Houston had to steal a game on the road from Oklahoma City which I can only assume led to Thunder fans across the nation chanting…

Lion Face: This

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-yVV-ugC-k

No comment.

Lion Face: Kawhi Leonard

GIF via SBNation

If you tell me that you’ve never done this on an eight-foot hoop in your backyard, either you’re lying or I weep for your childhood. In addition to this alley oop, Leonard finished the first half with 14 points on 7-10 shooting in 20 minutes of play. His performance begs the question, Kawhi haven’t you been paying attention to him this series? (I’m so sorry for that.)

Lemon Face: Steve Nash v. the Spurs

 

 

While Nash and the Lakers entered the season dreaming of a championship, in reality it has been a nightmare for them. After playing in at least 85% of games every season from 2000-2012, Nash has battled injuries all year as age has finally caught up to him. He gritted his way through last night’s game but was largely overshadowed by Steve Blake’s surprisingly impressive performance.

Lion Face: Manu Ginobili

After missing nine of the Spurs last 10 games of the year with a strained hamstring, Ginobili’s health was up in the air heading into the playoffs. Well, at least that’s what Gregg Popovich and the Spurs wanted you to believe. Instead, Ginobili has looked as good as can be in Games 1 and 2. In the first half alone, Ginobili  scored 12 points on 4-5 shooting (3-4 from beyond the arc) while dishing out four assists. Can you say efficient?

Lemon Face: This Sports Illustrated Pre-Season Cover

SICover

Well, technically, it has been fun…provided you’re not a Lakers fan. Unfortunately for Lakers fans and those who enjoy schadenfreude at the expense of the Lakers dismal performance this year, their season, barring a miracle that may need to be confirmed by the Vatican, appears to be rapidly coming to an end.

BONUS Lion Face: THAT PASS

GIF via @cjzero

Usually I try to have an equal amount of Lion Faces and Lemon Faces to balance everything out, but then Manu Ginobili decided to do this at the end of the game and there’s just absolutely no way I could not include it, so I’ll leave you with this.

Breaking Down The Pacers Breakdowns

If defense alone won championships, the Indiana Pacers would be considered serious contenders for the Larry O’Brien trophy. However, scoring is also fairly important to winning games, and it is in this area, specifically in clutch situations, that the Pacers struggle, as we can see in the chart below, which shows Indiana’s record in the clutch when they are either tied or behind.

 

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Indiana’s problems in those winnable situations come not from talent, but rather from execution.

 

 

Here, the Celtics have just stormed back to tie the game on the heels of a 9-0 run. The ever-pendulous momentum has swung in favor of Boston, and all seems lost. Yet the Pacers faithful are unwavering in their belief of this team, and they rise as one to cheer what will surely be the basket that cauterizes the suddenly open wound. They hope, no, they know, that salvation will come in the form of a…Roy Hibbert long distance two pointer?

The first problem with this set, before the two bungled screens, before Roy Hibbert’s ill-fated heave, is timing. The Pacers wait until halfway through the shot clock to finally initiate their set. If they were ahead in this game, burning down the clock might make sense. But at a time when Boston’s offense and defense are clicking on all cylinders, it doesn’t seem like the soundest of strategies.

 

 

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David West tries to set a screen for Hill, but Hill never gives his big man time to get set. Instead, Hill darts towards the right side, with defensive savant Avery Bradley sticking with him every step of the way.

 

Hill: “Oh, my bad, David. Here, let’s try that again”

 

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Hill takes the ball back out, finally allowing West to set a proper screen. Except, he doesn’t.

 

Hill: “Nice, that’s what I’m talking ab-wait, why’d you slip? Well, OK, I guess I’ll just turn the corner and oh! Hey, Jeff, nice to see you. Really, I think it’s tremendous that you’re back on the court after everything you went through last season. It’s just such an inspiration to me.Wait, since you’re hedging pretty hard on David’s screen that means Garnett rotated to David, which means Roy should be flashing at the free throw line. I should get him the ball.Then again, Jeff, we so rarely get the chance to-oh, you’re going to cover Roy? Well, it was nice talking to you, are you free for a beer after the game? Shoot, now Roy isn’t as open as he was before.”

 

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Hill has given Green enough time to recover back to Hibbert, closing off what could have been a driving lane for Hibbert to either score or suck in the defense and pass out. Instead, he’s forced to take a free-throw jump shot that clangs off the iron.

 

 

 

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In this set against the Lakers, Paul George sets an initial screen on Antawn Jamison, and then streaks to the far side to set up shop in the right corner.David West then sets a screen on Steve Nash, freeing up Hill to drive into the lane.

 

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Once Hill picks up his dribble, he has two decent options: pass the ball to George, soon to be open for a corner three, or pass the ball to David West who is just inside the three point line.

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Hill, already looking in West’s direction, chooses the latter option. Paul George is still open.

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West decides to reset, and gives the ball back to Hill, as they run a 1-4 pick and roll. Paul George is still open.
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Jamison and Nash trap Hill, so Hill passes it to West. Steve Blake rotates to West, which now leaves both Stephenson and Paul George open. However, rather than making the smart play, West turns and finds himself greeted by none other than Dwight Howard, arms outstretched, as if he’s singing, “These arms of mine/they are longing/longing to swat you.” Paul George is still open.

 

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West takes the jumper over Howard’s extended arms, and misses. Paul George is still open.

—–

Sometimes, it’s just a case of missing the opening man, and making a poor decision as a result.


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Lance Stephenson starts out with the ball, while West sets a screen for him up top. Paul George and George Hill, they of the boy band “George George,” are firmly entrenched in the corners.

Screen Shot 2013-04-14 at 10.05.22 PM

 

Stephenson gives West the ball just to the right side of the top of the circle. West surveys the field, or at least appears to be, as Stephenson darts along the backside of West on a cut to the basket.

 

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As this is happening, West passes the ball to Paul George, while Roy Hibbert comes up to set a screen for George.

 

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Though George now has his defender, Mike Dunleavy, on his back, he’s also confronted with the length and all around might of LARRY SANDERS! George is thus left with two options, since trying to go mano-a-mano against SANDERS! is a pretty awful idea: he could pull up, a high-difficult, low-percentage shot, or he could get it a WIDE OPEN Lance Stephenson, either with a lob or a bounce pass around SANDERS! In a perfect world, one in which ACLs and Achilles’ tendons don’t tear, George would have found Stephenson.

 

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Yet in our current world, knees are the worst, and George pulls up and gets his shot blocked by, you guessed it, MIKE DUNLEAVY!

—-

George Hill has, by all means, had a tremendous season. He’s averaging career-highs in points (14.3), assists (4.7) and PER (16.7) with a True Shooting percentage of 56%. Still, even though Hill has had some stellar moments in the closing moments of a few games this year, he has, at times, struggled with late-game execution.

 

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The action starts with 17 seconds left to play. Hill and David West run what looks to be a pretty simple pick and roll (also, hello there David West’s slightly illegal, oh-how-did-my-leg-get-all-the-way-out-there screen). Chuck Hayes, who is defending West, sags off his man and switches to meet Hill once he gets around the screen.

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Hill, perhaps not realizing ol’ Chuck Wagon’s mobility, decides to drive right at him. Marcus Thornton then leaves Paul George to get in on the action, getting a hand in Hill’s face to bother him on his way to the rim. Why Thornton does this is a mystery, as it leaves Paul George, a deadly three-point shooter, wide open.

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Tyreke Evans further compounds the Kings’ questionable defense by sagging way off of Lance Stephenson (cleverly semi-camouflaged in a sea of yellow in the corner) and collapsing on Hill as well. Again, that leaves Hill smothered by three defenders, while Paul George and Lance Stephenson are wide open for three pointers.

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The smart play would be to pass it to either one of these players on the wings, but at this point, Hill, driven by Robert Frost, chooses the road not taken, and goes for a lay up, which promptly gets blocked by Chuck Hayes.

Indiana’s combination of talent and defensive prowess will likely be enough to get them out of the first round of the playoffs. However, if they want to advance further and truly become a contender, it is essential for them to fix their late-game execution issues.

First Name Last, Last Name First

Photo taken by Pelle Rink

 

The Indiana/Chicago first round in last season’s playoffs gave us plenty to love about the Pacers. In four out of five games, Indiana stood its ground against the best team in the NBA at that point. Suddenly, despite incredibly awful shooting displays, the Pacers became a buzz-worthy team. And someone who garnered quite a bit on his own was Paul George. Yet for someone known as a scorer in college, George’s field goal numbers were terrible. He isn’t yet comfortable putting the ball on the floor/shooting off the dribble, so his offensive game was quickly stymied by the best defense in the league — and there’s no shame in that, especially for a rookie as raw as George is.

Curiously, George unveiled himself a potentially great defender, something that few would’ve been able to predict during his days at Fresno St.  In Game 3, George had an awful shooting night (1-9 FG), but managed to bring in a game-high 12 rebounds, along with two assists, two steals, and two blocks, all the while being a big contributor to Derrick Rose’s worst shooting performance of the season (including an unbelievable recovery block on what was supposed to be a blow-by layup off a high screen). Rose had 96 other games to shoot worse than the 22% he managed in Game 3. He didn’t.

(…The Pacers lost that game.)

That first round series was at once a solid effort from a young team and a cry for help. The Pacers allowed for late-game surges by the Bulls in each of the first four games as they paralyzed themselves with a lapses in offensive execution down the stretch. Of course, that was then. Things have changed a bit since then.

The Pacers and San Antonio Spurs struck one of those rare deals wherein both teams get exactly what they need while giving up something just outside the scope of necessity. Acquiring George Hill means patching up a few glaring holes on the team while reinforcing their greatest strength. Hill is as steady as they come in terms of combo guards, perfectly capable of running the offense while Darren Collison rests. His dramatic improvement as a shooter bodes well for the team with George and Brandon Rush equally inconsistent shooters, and with Mike Dunleavy Jr. unable to keep himself on the floor. Having a steady hand is imperative for the late-game situations, and that might be the most important skill Hill brings back to his hometown. The Spurs built, from the ground up, a soldier understanding his role in the collective and never superseding it. Of course, the Pacers would love to unlock Hill’s prior incarnation — because adding another potent decision-maker sounds much more appealing than allowing more Danny Granger isolation plays.

Defensively, Hill will jump right into being a high-functioning cog in Indiana’s stellar team defense. Hill is one of the best pick and roll defenders in the league, which is probably worth double for the Pacers. Being in the same division as the Bulls means needing several wrenches to throw into the Derrick Rose fight for all four rounds. With Paul George proving to be a successful Rose deterrent, adding Hill into the mix should only improve an already solid defensive scheme.

Adding Hill puts Indiana in an interesting (and most likely beneficial) position. When the Pacers eschewed Dunleavy for George late in the regular season, it was clear that defense was being held as the premium. But as SI’s Zach Lowe explained prior to the start of the playoffs, maybe that wasn’t the best idea:

The Pacers have played much better with Dunleavy on the floor this season than they have with either George or Brandon Rush at shooting guard, and it’s not close. Indiana’s current starting lineup — Darren Collison/George/Danny Granger/Tyler Hansbrough/Roy Hibbert — has been outscored by about 10 points per 100 possessions, according to Basketball Value. The margin stays just as bad if you substitute Rush for George. But in 152 minutes with Dunleavy at the 2-guard spot, that lineup is +4 per 100 possessions.

- Pair of playoff teams face rotation decisions | The Point Forward

Dunleavy was the only shooting guard on the roster consistently capable of creating offense, which Lowe explains could mean more to the Pacers than defense (which makes a bunch of sense when you consider just how awful this team was on offense). Hill is a reliable shooter and passer – replacing Dunleavy — and his length and smarts allows him to guard multiple positions — replacing George — making him the likely choice for starting 2. This means moving George back to the bench. And while the guy has superstar ambitions (and who can blame him with the skill set he has?), Hill’s acquisition allows Indiana to be patient in George’s development. As Paul George refines his offensive game, he could very easily settle into a Trevor Ariza-esque defensive stopper role off the bench without the idiotic shooting displays. After Game 3, he clearly took pride in his defensive effort. As he should. Holding a force like Rose to underwhelming performances should be enough to make anyone consider defense as a specialty.

George is someone who could possess star potential. Adding Hill doesn’t necessarily inhibit that. It does, however, make sure that the organization is patient in George’s development. It makes sure bad habits don’t derail what could be the beginning of a promising career. Indiana got what they needed on draft night –a big fix and a little breathing room as the next few years play out. The Pacers aren’t rushing the future, but they aren’t stalling the present either.

NBA Playoffs Spurs Mavericks Game 5 Preview: Someone Want To Tell Me What The Hell Is Going On In Texas?!

Had some business to attend to late last week and over the weekend, so this series has gotten a little bit away from me. Catching up with the replay, though, I’m still bamboozled. What in hell is going on? And I say this not just as someone who has ‘endorsed’ the Mavericks simply because I’ll back any candidate that I think can beat the Lakers. This hasn’t been a “oh, the Spurs do what they’re doing” series. It’s been a completely bizarre, WTF, GTFO series. George Hill is good. We knew this. But this good? “I’mma run your ass all over the floor and play with more poise than Jason Terry” good? DeJuan Blair we knew was good. But TRR (Total Rebound Rates) of 16%, 83% (!) (I don’t care that it was 4 minutes), and 30%? Richard Jefferson being alive? What in God’s name?

Some things make sense. Like this. “Play Matt Bonner less and your defense will suck less. MAGIC!” That makes sense. And the Mavericks getting caught out of focus due to physical play? I loathe cliches. I don’t like boiling down basketball to “one team wanted it more” or “they played with the heart of a champion” or “you’ve got to be tough.” But there are also reasons why phrases become cliches. They’re used a lot. And it’s been true. You harass the Mavs, take them out of the basketball game and into a street fight and they’re not in their element. These guys aren’t dive bar frequenters. So that makes sense. Hell, the Spurs have been doing it to teams since Clinton was in office.

But Duncan and Ginobili and Parker struggling and the Spurs still winning? A three-guard lineup from the Mavs, in the face of all reason and common sense? Dirk Nowitzki being assisted on only 25% of his points in a crucial Game 4?

I can’t decide whether this is one of those series that simply didn’t make sense and wasn’t indicative, or if the Spurs really have something going. I heard a term used to describe the question of this Spurs team, and it does strike fear into my heart. Sustainability. Can they sustain this? Can you really win four playoff series with Richard Jefferson, a rookie sans ACLs, and George Hill as your vital components? Sure, Duncan and Ginobili will have their nights. But after what we’ve seen from this team this season, should we just throw all of that information away? My fear is we’ll find that this bizarre formula is enough to down the Mavs who can’t seem to make any adjustments, and the Suns, because, well, it’s the Suns and I’m pretty sure there’s an immutable law of physics which says Steve Nash can’t defeat Tony Parker in a playoff series. But LA? Trust me, I know how terrible the Lakers have looked. But doesn’t anyone else see the pattern being formed here?

The Lakers struggle against a fun, free, dominant Thunder team who is drastically shifting expectations and constructs on how to build a team long-term with young talent (the Blazer-destructim Manifesto). Then get a short-handed, perennially sheep-in-wolf’s-clothing Jazz team they can mow through. And then a Spurs team that manages to outperform expectations coming into the postseason, yet disappoint based on preseason expectations. That kind of path falls right in line with my continued philosophy that the Lakers are, through no act of their own or league intervention, blessed by the basketball gods to ensure that whatever they need to occur, does.

Regardless, though we’ve seen the Spurs “turn it on” in the playoffs seemingly ever year for the last decade, this seems like something else entirely. It’s a dramatic evolution of the team into an entirely new entity. This isn’t a team that flexed its muscle when it had to in the regular season. Their big wins in the regular season looked nothing like this. Sure, Hill had some huge games and Blair’s been a beast. But the overall complexion seems like this team just hopped out of a cocoon with swords drawn. It’s like the playoff Spurs just burst from the chest of the regular season Spurs .


So Dallas will, barring a miracle the likes of which haven’t exactly gone their way in the playoffs, be eliminated yet again, sooner than anyone thought they would, yet again. San Antonio also manages to continue their long standing tradition of destroying fun through excellence, depriving us of a competitive series culminating in a Game 7. The Spurs have acquitted themselves. The question will be what they do with their newfound freedom.

It’s Not About The Win. It’s About The Principle

While any win against the defending NBA champions is a welcome result for a team incorporating three new starters Jefferson, Keith Bogans and rookie DeJuan Blair into its lineup, it’s the progress of the incorporation — and not their W-L record in January — that matters to this Spurs bunch.”Hopefully we’re not that far,” Tim Duncan said after going for 25 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks against Andrew Bynum, who is an inch taller, 25 pounds heavier and 11 years younger than The Big Fundamental.

“Hopefully we’re starting to turn the corner. Every little win counts and hopefully this solidifies something for us.”

San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich wants his team ready to compete for a title, come June. That’s why Mr. IV to Phil Jackson’s Mr. X, knew that he couldn’t read much into a win when his team let a 22-point third quarter lead slip down to six in the fourth against a Lakers squad that was missing Pau Gasol strained left hamstring for the game and without Kobe Bryant lower back spasms for all of the fourth quarter.

“We played well tonight,” Popovich said. “They obviously were wounded. Both facts are true. We’re happy to get the win.”

via Daily Dime – ESPN.

(Brief aside: You can find two pieces I wrote for the Daily Dime last night via a click through. They’re brilliant, BRILLIANT, I tell you!)

Let’s break this down to it’s simplest components, and then work our way back up.

This loss meant absolutely nothing to the Los Angeles Lakers.

This win meant a ton to the San Antonio Spurs.

The game was supposed to be about whether or not the Spurs can contend with LA on a meaningful level with the way these two rosters are assembled. Injuries made that an unattainable assertion either way. Los Angeles can slub this off. Bryant’s not going to have an injured back or broken fingers come May. And Gasol’s purposefully not coming back to not create a lingering issue. If you’re not at your best, you don’t have to look in the mirror about why backdoor cuts were so effective, why your bench sucks so much, why Ron Artest, injured or not, continues to have problems with focus. You can simply put a check in the “I was injured and unable to live up to my high expectations” box and move on to getting healthy and still probably going .500 during this stretch.

But for San Antonio, usually in situations like this, it’s nothing, it means nothing, it has no value. But instead, it was a different kind of win. Not a “we beat the team we’ve been chasing” but “we’re getting it. We’re finally getting it.”

You can see some relief, in Popovich, in Ginobili, in Jefferson, that this team is gelling, coming together, that the experiment in aggressive payroll is not going to result in a full-blown detonation. Duncan? Duncan was never worried at all. But Blair is now a functioning component as opposed to a freak sideshow. Jefferson is starting to meld and find his spots on defense. George Hill really may be good enough to not only backup Parker ably, but play next to him. Trey and I were both impressed by what it looked like with dual Parker clones on the floor at the same time, like some sort of French mime duo that could kill you and leave you bleeding before you knew you were hit. Hill literally ripped the ball away from Artest on rebounds last night. Twice. Just took it away. I was scared. For Ron, for Hill, who may end up as dinner for Artest one day because of this. But the point is, the complete team component for the Spurs is hitting their stride.

Expect them to go on a huge run through the next two months before putting it on cruise control, just like they do every year. As long as their star point guard doesn’t have plantar fasciitis, they should be fi…

OH, FUDGE.

Last week in a piece exploring Parker’s role on the team I stated the Spurs troubles were not their point guard’s style of play, but rather his inability to play like himself. Last night Jeff McDonald from the Express-News confirmed my suspicions of an injury.

Tony Parker has plantar fasciitis.

Well, dang. One step forward, one annoying, painful half-step back.