The way the Indiana Pacers and Paul George started last night’s game made me conjure thoughts of Kevin Hart’s voice screaming “they’re not ready”, and the team’s superstar really seemed like he wasn’t.
The first half was nothing but headaches for George. He was hesitant to make plays when Dwyane Wade switched on him and double-teamed — like Chris Paul — every time he tried to shake LeBron James on the pick-and-roll. Things were reminiscent of when the Miami Heat pushed to stop Jeremy Lin’s “Linsanity” campaign.
They came at PG the same way, like they were gunning to kill his early-season MVP talk. It didn’t help that he threw ill-advised passes, forced a few shots and played as if he was pressed to earn some respect — respect that he already has. George’s line in the first quarter read like one of a college bench warmer: zero points, zero rebounds and zero assists — compared to James eight points, five rebounds and two assists after one. You could see the frustration on his face.
Obviously people thought it was over, but then the unfathomable happened. No, not Roy Hibbert‘s silenced domination — he continued to takeover. But, Mr. Shuttlesworth was the real problem. Just ask NBA.com’s Steve Aschburn:
Ray Allen has gone from yellow-rope famous to chalk-outline vanished tonight.
— Steve Aschburner (@AschNBA) December 11, 2013
Now I don’t know if Michael Beasley’s improved defense would have helped, but Erik Spoelstra’s decision to place Ray Allen on George was one of the more annoying moves he’s made all season. Not making a switch after Allen continuously got lost and left the Pacers’ gunner open was even worse — 12-points-in-the-third-quarter worse.
Playing on the stopper side of the ball has never been Allen’s strong suit, but his defense last night was very Mike D’Antoni-like. So let’s pray that when Beasley comes back, coach Spoelstra won’t fall into last year’s habit of playing Ray when he should be riding the pine.
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