Dallas Mavericks: George Hill
Hill stuffed the box score Friday night with 15 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals, making five of his seven shots from the floor against the Mavs.
Collison, whom the Pacers deemed expendable this summer and essentially dumped in the Ian Mahinmi sign-and-trade deal, scored 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting and dished out only four assists.
It was a continuation of Collison’s struggles since a spectacular start with the Mavs. He has shot only 34.6 percent from the floor while Dallas has lost four of its last five games.
Asked if returning to Indiana created any emotions, Collison said, "Not really. I’ve got my own issues worrying about what this team is trying to do."
A few more notes from the Mavs’ fourth consecutive road loss:
1. Rough return for the Matrix: Shawn Marion looked rusty in his return after missing five games due to a sprained MCL in his left knee. Marion, who wore a brace to protect the knee, had as many turnovers (two) as points while making only one of five shots from the floor.
“I thought Shawn gave a good effort,” coach Rick Carlisle said of Marion, who had seven rebounds in 25 minutes. “This is a beginning of him coming back. He did some good things. He competed, he rebounded. He did a lot of the things we need him to do."
2. Second half zeroes: Three of the Mavs’ top six players failed to score a point in the second half. Marion, center Chris Kaman and sixth man Vince Carter were all held scoreless after halftime.
Not coincidentally, the Mavs were miserable offensively in the second half, scoring only 34 points on 14-of-45 shooting. The Mavs have been outscored by an average of 11.3 points in second halves this season.
Carter played only 5:30 in the second half, with Carlisle perhaps wanting to keep those 35-year-old legs as fresh as possible for the butt end of the back-to-back Saturday night in Cleveland.
Marion was much more concerned about the Mavs' poor defense in the second half than their struggles to score.
“It’s frustrating right now," Marion said. "We put ourselves in a good position to win the game in the first half then we come out and we couldn’t stop anything in the second half. I don’t know why we are doing these things. We can’t seem to sustain anything. We are continuing to have lapses, mental lapses.
"We have to be more consistent at both ends of the floor. We have to do a better job of helping each other. Right now there seems to be no communication, our trust in each other doesn’t seem to be there."
3. Sarge comes strong again: Rookie Bernard James, aka Sarge, continues to make his presence felt while getting the bulk of the backup center minutes. James had nine points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 17 minutes.
Brandan Wright played 11 minutes after getting a DNP-CD Wednesday night. He had six points but only one rebound. Carlisle has made it clear that rebounding and defense are the top two priorities for his backup centers.
How it happened: The lowest-scoring team in the league lit up the Mavs. The Dallas offense had a dismal night.
That combination resulted in a pretty good butt-kicking at Bankers Life Coliseum.
The Pacers seized control of the game with a 28-12 run to start the second half. Indiana shooting guard Lance Stephenson had 10 of his 12 points during that spurt.
Darren Collison got dominated by the point guard who took his starting job last season. George Hill had 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting and added seven assists. Collison had 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting and four assists.
|Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle talks about his coaching style, working with O.J. Mayo, his decision not to play Brandan Wright and more. |
What it means: The Mavs fell to .500 with their fourth loss in the last five games. Dallas has had an especially difficult time on the road. They have a four-game road losing streak since beating the Los Angeles Lakers in the season opener. They’ll get a shot to end that skid Saturday night in Cleveland. They started preparing for that game with 4:27 remaining, when coach Rick Carlisle pulled all his starters.
Play of the game: Hill split a Rodrigue Beaubois/Bernard James trap at the top of the arc, drove down the middle of the lane and kicked the ball to a wide-open Sam Young in the corner when the defense collapsed. Young hit a 3-pointer to cap the Pacers’ 11-2 run, giving Indiana a 70-59 lead with 4:03 remaining in the third quarter.
Stat of the night: O.J. Mayo (19 points) was the only Maverick to score more than 10 points.
|Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle talks about his coaching style, working with O.J. Mayo, his decision not to play Brandan Wright and more. |
Of course, that doesn’t mean the Mavs can afford to take Indiana lightly. After all, the Mavs have managed to lose to the Bobcats and injury-ravaged Timberwolves over the last week.
The Pacers’ size in particular presents a challenge to the Mavs. Indiana ranks third in the NBA in rebounding differential at plus-5.6 per game. Rebounding has been one of the Mavs’ biggest weaknesses, although the Mavs did outrebound the Wizards by six boards in Wednesday’s win with 7-footer Chris Kaman in the starting lineup.
Records: Mavs (5-4); Pacers (3-6)
When: 6 p.m.
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: Roy Hibbert, the Pacers’ All-Star center, is off to an awful start (8.2 points, .386 field goal percentage). The Mavs can’t let him get well against them. That’s a legitimate concern because the Mavs have struggled against post-up players this week. They couldn’t stop Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic (20 points in 28 minutes) until he sprained his ankle. They couldn’t stop Washington’s Kevin Seraphin at all in Wednesday’s fourth quarter, when he had 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting. Hibbert and Kaman, whom the Pacers would have signed to a long-term deal if they opted not to match the offer Portland made to Hibbert as a restricted free agent, had mixed results in their battles last season. Hibbert had 30 points and 13 rebounds in Indiana’s Feb. 21 win over the Hornets. Less than two weeks later, Kaman held Hibbert without a field goal, although the Pacers still won the game.
Key matchup: Darren Collison vs. George Hill – This is definitely the matchup with the most intrigue. The Pacers considered Collison expendable after giving his starting job to Hill late last season. Collison, whom the Pacers shipped to Dallas along with Dahntay Jones in the Ian Mahinmi sign-and-trade deal, got off to a spectacular start with the Mavs but has struggled recently. Hill has also been up and down this season. He’s averaging 14.7 points and 4.7 assists -- highlighted by a 29-point, seven-assist performance against the Timberwolves last week -- but is coming off a three-point, 1-of-10 stinker in Wednesday’s loss to the Bucks.
Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) is out. F Shawn Marion (knee) expects to play. C/F Brandan Wright (illness) should be available. Pacers – SF Danny Granger (knee) is out. PF David West (ankle) is day-to-day.
Up next: at Cleveland Cavaliers, 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Backup guard George Hill will likely move into the starting lineup just as he did in taking over for Parker about this time last season when Parker broke a bone in his hand. He'll join All-Star Manu Ginobili with surprising rookie Gary Neal now becoming the likely sixth man. He's missed the last two games with mild concussion symptoms.
Does it crack open the door for the Dallas Mavericks (43-16), who despite winning six in a row and 15 of 16 remain six games behind San Antonio (49-10), to make a run at the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference?
Dallas has 23 games left starting Tuesday night at the vastly improved Philadelphia 76ers, who have moved above .500 at 30-29 and have won four in a row.
Really. The stats don’t lie.
San Antonio ranks fourth in the NBA in fast-break points this season, averaging 16.8 per game. It’s not a coincidence that San Antonio’s offense has never been more efficient. The Spurs average a league-best 112.6 points per 100 possessions, which is also the best in team history, according to basketball-reference.com.
“I’m still not buying it,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “That’s the truth. That’s the truth. I don’t know what else to tell you. I ain’t buying it.
“It’s not who we are. We don’t do that. I don’t know how we’re scoring. I’ve got no clue.”
Not that Popovich has a problem with it.
It’s certainly working for the Spurs, who own the NBA’s best record at 27-4. They’re winning on a regular basis with surefire Hall of Famer Tim Duncan playing a supporting role on offense. Five Spurs are scoring in the double figures, with Duncan ranked fourth at 13.2 points per game.
“It’s definitely unusual,” Popovich said. “So I think it’s best if I don’t try to figure it out, because that would probably just screw it up.”
Popovich, of course, is just playing dumb. He gets credit for recognizing that the Spurs had the skilled athletes (Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson and George Hill) to play at a faster tempo and is pushing them to do so.
Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson joked that his father, ol’ Nellie, negatively influenced old pal Popovich during card games in Hawaii with Willie Nelson. But the Spurs still don’t run recklessly and continue to have one of the league’s best halfcourt offenses. They play at the 12th-fastest pace in the league, but that’s a rapid increase for a team that typically ranks near the bottom.
“You look at your hand and you’re always constantly evolving,” Nelson said. “Gregg is one of the best coaches really in the history of the game if you think about it. So he’s taking advantage of some of the new personnel, and players evolved just like anything else. Hats off to them.”
Once again, owner Mark Cuban opened his wallet in making moves that he believed would help the franchise get back into the thick of Western Conference contention. Dallas finally traded Josh Howard to Washington and in return received scorer Caron Butler, an agile big man with good hands in Brendan Haywood and an extra defender in DeShawn Stevenson. With the addition of Shawn Marion in the offseason, even the pundits couldn't help but notice the size, strength and toughness of this revameped roster.
Through some wild swings throughout the 82-game regular season, it was the Mavs who outlasted Utah, Denver and Phoenix for the No. 2 seed, and after a big win over the Los Angeles Lakers during a 13-game win streak following the blockbuster trade, the Mavs themselves were buying into the hype -- and the growing expectations.
Nowitzki, who had another outstanding regular season, avergaging 25.0 points and 7.7 rebounds, said this team had more talent than any he played on in his dozen seasons in Dallas. Jason Kidd, who had played in two NBA Finals with the New Jersey Nets, said this was one of the best teams he's played on.
Yet, somehow, it all came crashing down in a familiar postseason letdown.
The Spurs, led by the Big Three plus the emergence of George Hill and revolving role players, made big shot after big shot and defensively suffocated Kidd, who struggled to get the Mavs on the run. With a stagnant halfcourt offense, Dallas failed to score more than 90 points in four of the six games, leaving more questions than answers about the club moving forward.
No one, not in this season, expected the Mavs to be licking their wounds again before the calendar turned to May.
Coach: Rick Carlisle
Record: 55-27 (1st in Southwest)
Playoffs: Lost to San Antonio (4-2)
Team payroll: $88.9 million*
Highest-paid player: Dirk Nowitzki ($19.8 million)*
Offseason transactions: Traded 21st overall draft pick C B.J. Mullens to Oklahoma City for 24th draft pick G Rodrigue Beaubois and a future second-round pick; in four team deal, traded F/G Devean George and G Antoine Wright to Toronto, and G/F Jerry Stackhouse plus a future second-round pick to Memphis for F Shawn Marion, Kris Humphries and Nathan Jawai (from Toronto), plus Greg Buckner (from Memphis, later released); signed G Quinton Ross (free agent); signed F Drew Gooden (free agent); signed F Tim Thomas (free agent); signed F Kris Humphries (free agent);
In-season transaction: Jan. 11, 2010: Traded Kris Humprhies and Shawne Williams to New Jersey for Eduardo Najera; Feb. 13, 2010: Traded Josh Howard, Quinton Ross, James Singleton and Drew Gooden to Washington for Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson.
The low: San Antonio 4, Dallas 2. Sure, the Spurs were not your typical No. 7 seed, but so what? The Mavs lost the home-court advantage by losing in Game 2 and then dropped two in a row at San Antonio to go down 3-1. The Mavs melted down in the third quarter of Game 4 and then in the do-or-die Game 6 they opened the first quarter with eight points. Despite taking the lead briefly in the third quarter, Dallas suffered its third first-round defeat of the last four seasons. This one particularly stung because of the big trade that had Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd calling this club one of the best either had ever played on.
F Dirk Nowitzki (25.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 48.1% FG)
G Jason Terry (16.6 ppg, 43.8% FG)
G/F Caron Butler (15.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 44.0% FG in 27 games)
G/F Josh Howard (12.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg in 31 games)
F Shawn Marion (12.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 50.8% FG)
G Jason Kidd (10.3 ppg, 9.1 apg, 5.6 rpg)
F Drew Gooden (8.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg in 46 games)
C Brendan Haywood (8.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg in 28 games)
G J.J. Barea (7.6 ppg, 3.3 apg, 19.8 mpg)
F Tim Thomas (7.5 ppg in 18 games)
G Rodrigue Beaubois (7.1 ppg, 51.8% FG in 56 games)
C Erick Dampier (6.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg)
F Kris Humprhies (5.2 ppg in 25 games)
F Eduardo Najera (3.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg in 33 games)
F James Singleton (2.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg in 25 games)
G Quinton Ross (2.0 ppg in 27 games)
G DeShawn Stevenson (2.0 ppg in 24 games)
G Matt Carroll (1.8 ppg in 25 games)
Beaubois started the second half and played the entire third quarter, scoring eight points on 4-of-7 shooting. Hill had seven points on 3-of-4 shooting in nine minutes as the Spurs led 70-63. But, when the fourth quarter started, the dynamic changed.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who implored his combo guard at halftime to take over offensively, started Hill in the fourth quarter and played him until the final buzzer. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle decided to sit Beaubois, who had 16 points in 18 minutes at the end of the third, in favor of veteran, but cold-shooting Jason Terry, who was scoreless and 0-of-5 from the field in 11 minutes entering the fourth quarter.
Hill breathed easier when he didn't see Beaubois return to the court to start the fourth.
"I was kind of happy because it took away another scorer that was playing very well. That's how it goes," said Hill, who collected 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. "People are going to go with people they're comfortable with. I think Beaubois did a really great job of really giving them a spark."
Defense wins championships
To his credit, Rick Carlisle has preached defense since Day One. Ultimately, his words alone cant stop opposing teams. At the end of the day, Dirk Nowitzki is always going to be on the court. As ridiculously sensational as he is offensively -- and make no mistake about it, he is as elite as they come in that regard -- he can be a liability on the defensive side at times. His little fourth-quarter scoring buddy Jason Terry is in the same defensively challenged boat. The two of them are among the best clutch scorers in the league. So in the final moments of a game, 40 percent of the players wearing a Mavericks uniform don't have a whole lot to offer in terms of stopping the opponent.
Bottom line: The Mavs are no defensive juggernaut. Anyone expecting them to ride their sometimes shaky defense to a title is delusional.
The Spurs are averaging 95.5 points per game while shooting 48 percent. More times than not, it looks as if the Mavs are seeing the pick and roll for the first time. In Game 4 -- when they were miraculously able to hold Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker to just 31 points combined -- an unexpected and lethal leak sprung loose in the form of George Hill, who scored 29 points.
For all of the great attributes that this team possesses, a stifling, hard-nosed defense is not one of them.
Jason Kidd and the half-court offense
Fast-paced, track-meet style offenses are often slowed to a grinding halt in the playoffs. Teams that thrive in the transition game are forced to look for sustenance elsewhere. Unfortunately for the Mavs, that devalues the greatness of Kidd.
Kidd is at his absolute best when he's flying down the court with the pedal floored. Teammates who chase after him are rewarded with easy stats. In the world of fast breaks, the basketball court is a simulated illusory world created by robots to pacify humans, and J. Kidd is Neo. But when you ask him to play a role in a half-court grind, he's Keanu Reeves performing Shakespeare at the airport Marriott.
Kidd will bury a wide-open weakside 3 with the best of them. It's a part of his game that has developed nicely over the years. But in the playoffs, when defensive intensity and weakside rotations ratcheted up to do or die levels, wide-open shots are unicorns. You never see them.
The Mavs can't run a Spurs-style pick-and-roll because Kidd is not a threat to drive to the basket. Neither is Terry. I'm not sure what Caron Butler is doing, but I feel like I've never seen anyone miss more bunnies around the basket. Marion is a brilliant transition filler, but you don't want to see an offense that is designed with his halfcourt skills as the focus.
The reason Barea gets in games is because he has the coconuts to attack the basket fearlessly. Too many of his teammates refuse to do so. At their core, the Mavericks are a team of jumper launchers, which ultimately seems counterintuitive to survival in the defensively charged postseason. To win in the playoffs, I've always believed that teams need to show aggression at close range. The Mavs just dont seem to have enough rim attackers in the mix for that style of offense.
The end result is a halfcourt offense that becomes far too stagnant, far too jumper-reliant, and far too dependent on Nowitzki's clockwork heroics.
The big German is the best player in this series, hands down. The problem for the Mavs is that he's alone. The next best four or five players in this series are all Spurs.
Their season might or might not end on their home floor tonight. Either way, it will end sooner than anyone expected in the next few days. Which brings us back to that brutal truth I mentioned. The Mavs have won 50-plus regular-season games for 10 consecutive years, but what has it gotten them? Very little in the playoffs.
This offseason, as the Mavericks consider exactly what to do with a pretty salty hand of roster retooling assets, they would be well served to focus on one thing and one thing only the blueprint for how to win playoff style basketball games. In my opinion, they need a two-way shooting guard (not an undersized tweener) who has handles, can be effective in the pick-and-roll game, can attack the basket and get to the free throw line.
As much as the Metroplex would like to see the Mavs rewarded for a decade of regular-season dominance, I'm afraid they just aren't built for playoff basketball. At least not this year.
Many people expect Mavs rookie Rodrigue Beaubois, a late first-round pick like Hill, to make a similar leap next season.
One NBA personnel man compared Beaubois with Hill earlier this season. They're both quick combo guards with long arms and the ability to hurt defenses with the drive or long-distance jumper.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban is definitely among those who expect Beaubois to have a breakout second season. However, Cuban said before the series started that he didn't think Beaubois and Hill were that similar.
Cuban declined to elaborate on why he didn't think the Beaubois-Hill comparison was a good one. "I don't want to motivate anybody," he said.
Since that quote didn't appear anywhere until now, you can't credit Cuban for provide motivational fodder for Hill's efficient 29-point explosion in Game 4. Does it make Mavs fans feel any better to think that Roddy B. might be ready to make such an impact in next season's playoffs?
SAN ANTONIO -- Poise shouldn’t be a problem for the NBA’s oldest team.
That makes the Mavs’ meltdown in the third quarter of their Game 4 loss inexcusable. It certainly isn’t inexplicable, though.
A team loaded with playoff-hardened veterans lost its composure. Plain, simple and embarrassing.
The Spurs ratcheted up the intensity after a sorry first half. The Mavs rolled over for a dozen minutes, turning an 11-point lead into a seven-point deficit, essentially dooming their season.
“You’ve just got to keep your poise a little better,” Dirk Nowitzki said following the 92-89 loss that put the Mavs in a 3-1 hole. “They were physical. We didn’t respond the right way.”
This debacle rests largely on Nowitzki’s shoulders. Antonio McDyess pushed, pulled, shoved and grabbed Dirk while getting constant double-team help during the third quarter. Nowitzki let that rattle him , throwing away three passes in the quarter.
Not that it’s all on Nowitzki. His teammates didn’t make the Spurs pay for selling out to double Dirk. The Mavs’ shooting percentage in the quarter (.235) was lower than the blood-alcohol content of a lot of folks roaming the River Walk during this week’s Fiesta.
Jason Kidd, a nonfactor for the third consecutive game, said the Mavs got great looks in the quarter but just didn’t make them. That certainly didn’t appear to be the case from my vantage point on press row. The Mavs struggled simply to get enough room to initiate their halfcourt sets, much less get open shots.
And the decibel level in the AT&T Center got higher and higher with every botched Mavs possession.
“The Spurs’ defense picked up and we needed to respond better to it,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “That’s the best answer I can give you, without seeing the film. When it gets loud, we have to keep our composure and we could have done better at that.”
Actually, they couldn’t have done much worse.
Awful offense wasn’t the Mavs’ only issue during the disastrous dozen minutes. Their defense was almost as deplorable. The Spurs hit 10 of 16 shots from the floor in the quarter (4-of-5 by Hill) preventing the Mavs from pushing the tempo.
Even by Mavs’ standards, it was an epic playoff meltdown.
“What meltdown?” Shawn Marion said. “Wasn’t no meltdown. It became a heated game. It was very heated out there. Everybody became real physical. Everybody lost composure a little bit.”
OK, fine. But only one team lost a double-digit lead, sending the Mavs’ season swirling toward the drain.
The Mavs dealt with some heartburn after Rick Carlisle stuck with his mighty mite lineup too long in Game 3.
“It got us the lead the other night,” Jason Kidd said. “In that aspect, it was good. But I think sometimes when we stick with it too long it puts us in a hole.”
Call me crazy, but I’m willing to bet that Caron Butler won’t watch from the bench as JJ Barea plays a whole half again. Barea is a nice changeup and has had playoff success against the Spurs, but the longer he’s on the floor, the more likely it is that Tony Parker and/or George Hill will expose his defensive liabilities.
It’s likely that Carlisle will go with the three-guard look at some point in tonight’s win-or-else Game 4. He likes the playmaking punch that lineup provides, but he didn’t deny that there can be diminishing returns with smallball.
“It’ll depend on the ebb and flow of the game, matchups, momentum and those kinds of things,” Carlisle said. “You’ve got to have a feel for how long to stick with it, but it’s something that we’ve used a lot the last couple of years against this team.
“How much we’ll do tonight, I don’t know.”
Here’s betting the shrimp won’t be the main course again.
Kidd was limited to just five points on 1-of-7 shooting in Game 2 and the Spurs defense has done a terrific job all season of limiting 3-point attempts, Kidd's favorite shot where he hit for better than 42 percent this season.
Spurs guard Tony Parker said the key to the series is to make Kidd, 37, scramble for 40 minutes.
"He's the motor for that team, he makes them go," Parker said. "If we can get him a little bit tired, even a little bit, I think it's good for us because he's the head of the snake. When he plays well, usually Dallas wins."
Kidd had 13 points and 11 assists in the Mavs' Game 1 win. Game 3 is tonight at 8:30 on ESPN.
"I try to do whatever I can, try to pressure him and try to make it hard on him and then George [Hill] does the same thing to try to get him tired," Parker said. "Maybe over the course of a series it will help us down the road."
Tim Duncan didn't take the bait when asked about Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's "I hate the Spurs" monologue. He said something like, what's new, everybody hates the Spurs.
As for Spurs guard George Hill, whose sore right ankle might or might not be still aching, he is likely to play and to start.
"Unless he falls down in his room or trips over an end table or something," Popovich said of Hill's availability.
That leaves Tony Parker to come off the bench.
Parker had told Spurs coach Gregg Popovich that he's fine with coming off the bench as long as he's in the game in crunch time.
*Coach Gregg Popovich was not happy with the foul discrepancy. The Mavs shot 20 more free throws than the Spurs and Dirk Nowitzki matched the Spurs with 12 made free throws. Popovich opted to keep his defensive plans on Nowitzki to himself, but he did have this to say about limiting Nowitzki's trip to the line where he rarely misses.
"What you can do is not foul him to death," Popovich said. "I thought sometimes we fouled him, sometimes we didn't. But you know what's going to happen in a game. You get calls one way or the other. He's great at selling it. He did a good job of shooting the basketball, getting in positions to get fouled, all that sort of thing. And we didn't play him very smart in that respect. We put him on the line more than we should have. He did make some tough shots there, no doubt about it, but he's also a Hall-of-Fame player so he's going to make those shots. It's not like it's the first time he's made a tough shot, that's for sure."
*Guard George Hill reported that his sore right ankle feels "so-so" and "a little bit tender." He said he hopes to be able to play in Game 2. As for his Game 1 performance in which the second-year guard started, he said, "It just felt like it wasn't me out there, I wasn't the same person, mainly on defense...All that mental stuff has to go out the window."
*Tony Parker remarked that the Spurs have to play better defense on Nowitzki, who compiled 36 points on 12-of-14 shooting, and Caron Butler, who scored 22 points in Game 1. Parker said, "Everyone was shooting the ball well. Even Jason Kidd was making 3s."
Surely, Parker realizes that Kidd shot better than 42 percent from behind the arc this season.
*As for Popovich saying that some Spurs played like "dogs" in Game 1, Parker said, "You know with Pop you never know what he's going to say. He was really upset, like everybody. That's [Game 2] going to be a great game to show what we can do and show our mentality, how we are going to react."
*Parker was asked if he's coming off the bench even if George Hill is unable to play: "Yeah, I'm coming off the bench." Popovich declined to give his intentions at point guard if Hill is unavailable. In games that Hill missed late in the season, rookie Garrett Temple started with Parker coming off the bench.
“They’ll make adjustments,” Kidd said. “We’ll probably see him starting in Game 2. He’s just getting back. The big thing is he’s a talent. He’s an All-Star who has won championships. We’ll look for him to start playing a little bit more.”
Such a lineup change would certainly make sense after Game 1.
Parker, who is calling himself Manu Jr. since he's a sixth man these days, produced 18 points and four assists off the bench. George Hill had no points, no assists and two turnovers as the starter.
Hill had an excuse: He was a gametime decision because of a sore ankle. Not that Kidd wanted to hear it.
“I thought he was fine,” Kidd said. “He was out there to play. Any time you go out there to play, you’re fine.”
Could Kidd be trying to get in the head of a kid with precious little playoff experience?
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