– Spurs win 18th straight (from Jeff McDonald, San Antonio Express-News):
“They are playing as well as anybody in the world right now,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. “You have to be perfect to beat the Spurs.”
Not one to revel in winning streaks, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is almost uncomfortable with how easily things are coming to his team.
During their streak, the Spurs are winning by an average of 16.5 points.
“I don’t think we’re going to be undefeated going into the playoffs, so it’s not really about that,” said Popovich, whose club has not lost since Feb. 21 at Phoenix. “You may win a game or lose a game, but if you’re at the top of your game execution-wise, you feel pretty good going into the playoffs.”
There’s little to feel good about in Indiana these days, with the Pacers dropping five of their past six games to fall percentage points behind Miami in the race for the Eastern Conference’s best record.”
– Contrasting fates: Spurs streak, Pacers sink (from Brian Windhorst, ESPN.com):
” Over the past two-plus seasons as the Indiana Pacers enjoyed their unexpected rise, they were a team that was known for its unfailingly sunny disposition and a steady, even if at times irrational, confidence.
After being scarred by a series of negative incidents over the previous decade, it was that genuine togetherness and collective interest that won back many of the fans who had turned their backs on the basketball-crazed state’s flagship team.
That existing foundation makes the Pacers’ crumbling season such a challenge to understand and impossible to have predicted. Teams across the league yearn for such chemistry and stability — it is those ingredients that traditionally allow teams to fight through challenging times.
Instead, the Pacers have been internally fracturing. Monday they lost 103-77 to the San Antonio Spurs, a team that is now winners of 18 in a row but also knows a thing or two about battling through adversity, having done it quite a bit this season. It was an important game for both teams, but the Pacers, who had been 33-4 on their floor this season, fell down fast and never recovered.”
– Will Pacers’ problems derail their once-promising drive for a title? (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):
” With just seven games left in their regular season, the once-mighty Pacers have fallen into self-conscious calamity. The letdown was inevitable. Few teams in modern NBA history have dominated as thoroughly as Indiana did early this season, which in itself marked the Pacers as a candidate for regression to the mean. Unfortunately for Indiana, that doesn’t even begin to cover the extent of its decline. Two months of mediocrity and a recent string of losses have sent these Pacers into a spiral of frustration and insecurity, with one woe only fueling the other.
All of which leaves a contender very clearly unsettled. The defense has lapsed more consistently of late, removing whatever room for error the offense once had. Steady offensive flow has given way to a certain lethargy, as those not immediately involved in a given play tend to disengage. Perhaps worst of all: The edge that sharpened Indiana’s play now reads as contempt, stoked by every swing or entry pass not made.
“I just don’t know if we’re handling success and being out front the right way,” power forward David West told NBA.com. “When we don’t share the ball, we have 10, 15 possessions where we don’t make a single pass, and you’ve got four guys, or nine guys on the floor watching one guy, watching two guys, it’s on us. … We’ve had that same sort of conversation over the last month and a half or so. We just haven’t been able to apply that on the basketball court, particularly on the road.””
– Shaun Livingston, the visionary (from Devin Kharpertian, theBrooklyngame.com)
” Livingston predicates his game on anticipation, reading an offense or defense and weighing the possible outcomes. In a pick-and-roll league, that means breaking down the whole floor. “It’s really about seeing where the help is going to be,” Livingston explained. “There’s one-on-one basketball, but teams try to eliminate that by playing team defense. So when playing team defense, you’re trying to help another guy. So if everybody’s pulling each other and helping on the string, then you’ve got to find out where the right play is. Who’s going to be open? Sometimes it might be you on the shot, sometimes it might just be the hockey assist. Sometimes it might be the home run play. But it’s about making the right play. That’s contagious.”
Read and view it here: http://thebrooklyngame.com/anatomy-perspective-shaun-livingston-visionary/
– Bulls know rebounding can’t be an uncertainty (from Joe Cowley, Suntimes.com):
” There are certain aspects of a game that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau will concede to the opposition. Rebounding is not one of them.
It didn’t matter that the Bulls, outrebounded in six of their last 10 games entering Monday, still found a way to win four of those games. To Thibodeau, that’s flirting with danger.
And with just eight regular-season games left after Monday’s win over the Boston Celtics at the United Center, that’s also a messy house going into the playoffs.
‘‘It’s been inconsistent,’’ Thibodeau said before the game, in which the Bulls finished with a 48-45 rebounding edge. ‘‘We’ve been a very good rebounding team all season. You have to look at it in totality, and I think right now, actually, there were several plays [from Sunday’s win at Boston] in which we had good block-outs and we took off where one guy was thinking the other guy was taking it.
– 10 NBA Stars Who Made “The Leap” This Season (from Drew Corrigan, Dimemag.com):
” Can anyone believe the NBA season is almost at an end? The playoffs are almost upon us, which means some teams will be reaching for NBA championships while other teams will be at home reaching for the remote. Every season that passes by there are players that have taken their game to the next level. These players have made the “leap” essentially, star players finally asserting themselves as dominant, All-Star caliber talents.
Some of these are obvious and some of these players have made the jump without anyone noticing. Obviously Anthony Davis and Blake Griffin are the first two that come to mind, but let’s not forget about Isaiah Thomas, Kyle Lowry, Ty Lawson and a couple others. Without further adieu, let’s get into the ten NBA players who made the jump this season.”
– Clippers’ Blake Griffin sits out at Minnesota (from Broderick Turner, LATimes.com):
“This part of the season is important, obviously, as far as [playoff] positioning and everything else,” Griffin said. “The last two years in the playoffs, I’ve been banged up. I haven’t been 100%. I don’t want it to be that way this year. So I’m trying to be smart about it and I’m trying to be proactive and not do anything to make it a prolonged, healing process.”