The weekend means more NBA playoffs, and a shift away from the alignment we had between games. Two favorites enter game 4 surprisingly trailing against teams previously thought of as weaker: The Indiana Pacers playing against the Atlanta Hawks and the Oklahoma City Thunder facing off vs the Memphis Grizzlies.
If the Indiana Pacers actually lose this series it will probably open up a can of worms about what went wrong. Rarely have we seen a team play so well in the regular season and then look so lost and confused once the playoffs began against an 8th seed that won only 46.3% of their games during the regular season. Everyone is pointing their fingers at Roy Hibbert, but he’s only part of the problem. Yes, he looks like he doesn’t even want to be on the court, with the Pacers playing better without a center against the Hawks’ five-shooters lineups, and yet there has to be some sort of use for him.
Atlanta need to keep doing what they’ve been doing. Jeff Teague running everyone around by slashing through a breaking down Pacers defense, and great ball movement that keeps finding someone open. The Hawks aren’t going to get easy points in the paint, but if they keep connecting on the open shots they create, they’re going to continue and cause the Pacers plenty of problems. Indiana needs to find some sort of offensive rhythm. Actually moving the ball and moving without it would be a good start.
The Thunder make for the same intriguing case of a team that playoff basketball is suddenly exposing flaws in their game. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are ignoring their teammates, and who knows what is Scott Brooks’ input on all of this. One of the interesting things about this happens to be how the Thunder talk like there’s nothing wrong, and the only thing separating them from winning the series is making shots.
But they’ve been taking bad ones all series long, especially in crunch time. Their bigs have been pushed around by Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, while Scott Brooks has forgotten about certain players in his rotation, like Serge Ibaka not getting enough shots or Jeremy Lamb not even getting to play. Mike Conley facing off against an increasingly frustrated Westbrook isn’t helping the Thunder either, who need to do more than just dump the ball to their two best players and hope for the best.