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NBA Sunday: Paul George Not Sweating Rose
Posted By Bill Ingram On October 27, 2013 @ 9:00 am In NBA | No Comments
Paul George Not Sweating Derrick Rose
Earlier this week, much was made of the fact that Chicago Bulls All-Star point guard Derrick Rose said he didn’t feel the defending Central Division champion Indiana Pacers are one of his team’s rivals.
“People say that it’s a rivalry, but I don’t really see it,” Rose told ESPN before scoring 32 points in a 103-98 preseason win over the Pacers. “I say the team that is more like a rivalry is when Darren Collison was on the team. That one was more like a rivalry, but this team is a great team. They’ve already proven themselves last year by making it to the Eastern Conference Finals … If anything, by probably in a year or two, it could become a rival, but right now, people say it’s a rival … I just don’t see it right now.”
Rose went on to say that the only team he really sees as a rival is the defending NBA champion Miami HEAT, and while Danny Granger and George Hill subsequently went on the record saying they feel like the Bulls are a big rival, Pacers All-Star forward Paul George told HOOPSWORLD recently that he doesn’t see the Rose’s Bulls as a rival, either.
“Not really because they’re not the defending champions, they’re not the defending conference champions,” said George. “We are – or division champions, I should say. So it’s what he says, we know what’s, at the end of the day we know who’s the team that everybody’s gunning for, and that’s Miami. They’re the defending champions, that’s the team everybody has to go at, so I understand where he’s coming from. I feel the same way. The only team we should be worried about, I wouldn’t say worried about because every team’s a threat, but the only team that we should be really, I don’t know the words to say, but Miami is the team to beat, to wrap it all up and sum it all up, Miami is the team to beat.”
Much was also made of the Pacers’ 0-5 start to preseason, with critics saying perhaps they weren’t prepared for the pressure that comes with being a conference finalist. George believes a schedule that had them playing games in the Philippines and Taiwan, taking on contenders and incorporating a half dozen new players had more to do with their early struggles.
“You know, it’s tough to put in new plays, have a new system with new guys here and play against playoff teams, and that’s what we had to do to start the year off so we can’t really be discouraged, 3-5 in preseason,” said George. “The best thing that we’ve done is start to play well to end preseason and that’s the best thing you can ask for. We’re coming into our own, we’re getting back to ourselves. We struggled (early) last year, but I don’t think that’s going to happen this year to start the year off.”
Over the last couple of seasons we’ve seen teams make it as far as the conference finals or even NBA Finals and then cut costs and undermine their goal of winning a championship. That’s certainly not the approach taken by the Pacers, who now have one of the best second units in the NBA. Luis Scola, for example, makes their front court rotation the best it’s been since Rik Smits, Sam Perkins and Al Harrington helped the team advance to the Finals in 1999-2000. George couldn’t be happier with the improvements made to the roster.
“I think our front office made it loud and clear that we’re all in,” said George. “We’re a team that’s been on the rise and a team that’s been borderline championship ready, but I think the moves that they’ve made, again, it’s loud and clear that this team is all in and ready to go for a championship.”
Of course, the biggest story of 2012-13 for the Pacers was the rise of George, himself, and the buzz around the locker room is that the team’s budding young star has taken another big step forward over the offseason.
“Just being consistent,” George said of what he believes his next step is. “That’s really it. My time here, I’ve always grown and wanted to be a complete player and the next step for me is to be complete and consistent. I look at guys like KD (Kevin Durant), LeBron (James), they shoot the ball well. No matter how many shots they take, they’re above 50 percent. That’s the level and the club that I want to get into, so I told them, to start the year off I want to be aggressive but be efficient and consistent on the offensive end.”
The Pacers may have fallen one game short of the NBA Finals, but they are still a team that the rest of the league will be gunning for when they meet them. George doesn’t think the pressure will be an issue for his team after the way they came together last season.
“Not really, because I think this team is focused,” said George. “We understand, the guys that are returning, we understand how hard it was for us to get to where we was last year, and we understand the work that we had to put in, so it felt good. To have everybody watching us play towards the end of the year, it felt good, and I think everybody’s on the same page as far as, we want to get back to that. But only thing we can do is take it one game at a time, one practice at a time, and make sure everybody’s dialed in and on the same page every night.”
Whether or not the Pacers and Bulls consider each other rivals, their games will be hot tickets and must-see TV for NBA fans around the world. They also look like the only two teams with a realistic shot of knocking out the defending champs and advancing to the NBA Final this season. The Pacers certainly look deeper and more dangerous than last season, which makes them positively lethal when the Miami HEAT come calling.
Joel Brigham took a deeper look at the entire Central Division earlier this month. Click here to read his team-by-team breakdown and see who he thinks is the king of the Central!
The Evan Turner Saga
Last week in this space we discussed the immense challenge Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown as he looks to build a winning basketball culture and team from the ground up. The biggest obstacle is the hangover effect involving players who have been a part of the team for a while and are less than thrilled with the prospect of starting over from scratch. Last week it was a questionable player absence, this week it’s Evan Turner supposedly hinting that it’s every man for himself since he perceives winning is not important.
The quote that sparked the fire was as follows:
“I’m going to get money regardless,” Turner said after Friday’s practice at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic medicine. “I’m not really going to worry about that. … I just want to take it day by day and keep becoming a better player.”
There are a couple of ways that quote can be taken, and the Philadelphia Inquirer interpreted it this way:
Turner averaged 14 points, six boards and four assists last season for the 76ers. His shooting efficiency is the problem (42-37-74 FG-3pt-FT percentages). If he can just find a few go-to moves he can reliably hit, it would help things. And hey, he’ll get minutes this year.
Turner’s comment more than anything shows that the players aren’t in a position to think big picture. All they can do is come in and do their work. It’s going to a be a tough year, they just have to hope it works out for them.
For his part, Turner didn’t feel that interpretation caught the true essence of what he meant by his original quote. He posted the following statement on Instagram on Saturday, spelling and grammar issues unmodified:
“The same sword they knight you, they gone good night you wit…” I usually dont care what is written about me or what people think but in this case I do. I know you’ll never win a fight with the media but ill fight any day when my character and intentions are misunderstood.This headline doesnt describe me as a person or who I am. Basketball is my passion, I dont play to get a paycheck. I play cause I love the game. I think its unreal and a blessing to be able to make money doing something you love to do and thats what I am doing. The headline above was intended to take the attention off me and keep it on my team. Im truly not worried about a matter that will be dealt with when the time comes. Im worried about the team atmosphere and getting better everyday, as I should be…hope to see everyone at the home opener”
Whatever Turner’s original intent was, and there is no reason to believe he was being disingenuous in his clarification, it was clearly not in line with what local media took it to be. It may just be that he didn’t express himself clearly, thus leaving his meaning somewhat open to interpretation. If that wasn’t the case, if Turner really has resigned himself to looking out for number one and forgetting about the new direction of the team, you can bet he won’t have to worry about it for long.
Sixers management can’t afford to let something like that fester and impact the rebuilding process.
Alex Kennedy recently sat down with Philadelphia 76ers rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams for an exclusive interview. Find out why he thinks he’ll be a strong competitor for the Rookie of the Year award and how his transition to the NBA is going so far!
HOOPSWORLD’s Sunday Schedule:
1 pm – Yannis Koutroupis breaks down the Northwest Division
5 pm – Alex Kennedy gives his take on the Southeast Division
8 pm – HOOPSWORLD’s 2014 Mock Draft for October
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