Nightly Grades: Pacers take commanding 3-1 series lead


Here's all you need to know: Tracy McGrady played. (And he had two rebounds, an assist and two blocks!)

The Spurs got back to their splendid basics. The floor was spaced, the ball moved intricately from the high post to each wing and back again. The offense flowed wonderfully and, most importantly, shots were made. 

Maybe the Spurs caught a break in that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were both off. Or maybe they put the clamps on them finally. Either way, the Spurs got the win that they needed and have a chance to finally put away these pesky Warriors in Oracle. 


Mission, accomplished. The Pacers did their duty by stealing a game in New York, and they finished the job by protecting home court -- convincingly so, I might add -- in Games 3 and 4. 

The Pacers again crushed the boards (54-36), took care of the ball (only 12 live-ball turnovers) and didn't let the Knicks do anything offensively.

It feels like the same story again. The Pacers stuck to their formula, and while it wasn't overly exciting or pleasant to watch, the results are hard to argue with. Own the glass, hit open shots, dominate the interior and don't let the other team score. All adds up to a 3-1 lead.


Did the magic run out? Or was it just a bad performance? The Warriors turned the ball over, and their spectacular shooting backcourt managed to go only a combined 6-22 from the floor. 

Winning in San Antonio in Game 5 would've been a big accomplishment for this Warriors team, but if they want a return trip to the Alamo, they'll have to fix the issues in Game 6. They can't afford to turn the ball over, they can't allow all the easy points, they have to make shots. 

It seems like an oddity that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson would both shoot the ball that poorly. But at the same time, maybe the Spurs are figuring them out. 


All of a sudden, the Knicks look unbelievably inept. The Pacers' defense has a whole lot to do with it, but there's just no rhythm, no flow and, outside of Carmelo Anthony trying to manufacture offense all on his own, there's nothing there.

J.R. Smith went 6-21, Anthony went 3-10 in the second half, and the Knicks hit 8-28 from 3. Everyone can point at Mike Woodson's rotations, the ball movement and whatever else, but the simple truth here is that the Knicks have run into a defensive buzzsaw and they have no answer for it outside of hoping that Melo can be flawless.  

Can the Knicks figure out the problem? They're headed home, which helps, but what can they do all that differently? They're just getting manhandled in many different ways. They need to make shots, but that's the name of their game and that's why it has always been flawed. They take, and make, a lot of bad shots. When they don't drop, especially against an elite defensive team like the Pacers, it all looks really bad.

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