It's been nearly three months since the Week-in-Review Crew (WIRC) dropped its latest edition. Like Brett Favre with football and masseuses, I guess we just couldn't stay away; especially after such a jam-packed week of NBA news. So, without further ado, here are the latest WIRC musings:
Uno: "...And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next."
Forget about 'Big Roy' or 'Area 55,' how about Roy Hibbert the Grouch?
As most of you have probably noticed, Hibbert's been playing with a bit of an edge as of late. He did this after a blatant shove from Carlos Boozer, and he did this after a wrist-flick thingy from second-year Jazzman, Rudy Gobert. His recent behavior has a lot of Pacers' fans and non-Pacers' fans alike asking, why? Why the tough-guy routine after seven years of mostly affable big-man harmony? Naturally, this question led me to concoct the following three conspiracy theories:
Conspiracy Theory #1: The same guy who once upon a time couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time--or even do a single pushup--is now a compact 280, MMA-trained, and semi-coordinated. And he's ready to prove it to his NBA peers and tough guys everywhere watching at home.
Conspiracy Theory #2: The rest of the NBA knows all about Hibbert's mental frailty. To be fair, Hibbert's partly to blame for this: one, he's talked about it openly, and two, his fluctuations in play further validate it. So why wouldn't the opposition test his on-court psyche with a little talk, sock, or drop?
Conspiracy Theory #3: Because his mom said he can.
Maybe it's one of them. Maybe it's none of'em. Maybe it's a mix of all three ... okay, so we know Hibbert's grouchiness is, in part, related to #3:
Roy: "I’ve got a phone call from my mom and said, ‘she would whoop my a@@’ if I didn’t stand up for myself."— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) January 6, 2015
More interestingly, however, he alluded to #2 being in play as well:
Roy: "Not trying to be a tough guy. I’m just going to hold my ground. I’m not over here trying to start fights with people."— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) January 6, 2015
Roy: "Just not going to let anybody push me like that. Ppl kno abt that & people think they can just keep doing that. Other teams see that."— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) January 6, 2015
Whatever the genesis, you'd like to see Hibbert be more selective with all the "You mad bro?" huffing and puffing. Here at WIRC HQ, we support any grown man defending himself within reason. But when it comes to professional athletes, you'd like to see them do it in a way that doesn't adversely affect their team, like, say, giving the opposition a free point. Overall, though, it's hard to fault Hibbert for his antics as he averaged 16 points, 9.5 rebounds, and a block in the two combustible contests.
Dos: "The hideousness of that foot will haunt my dreams forever."
You begged and begged and begged, and Frank Vogel, in turn, has tried valiantly to answer your calls. Here are just a few Pacer-fan complaints I recall hearing at the end of last season: "Fewer isos!" "Less ball dominance!" "No more selfish dudes!"
The eye test tells me Vogel and the Pacers are working really hard to remedy the problems on offense. The players are moving the ball more, looking for the open man more, and making more of a concerted effort to play off one another rather than play for themselves. Yet the Pacers still rank 28th in Offensive Rating, 26th in PPG, 20th in APG, and 27th in team FG%.
So, what gives?
I don't think anyone's put it more succinctly than Amin Elhassan who tweeted this about a week ago:
Pacers are the masters at running plays where a lot of things happen but nobody gets open, leading to their bigs taking long contested shots— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) January 5, 2015
And never was his analysis more apparent than on the Pacers' final play against the Lakers; a play that ended with Hibbert heaving the ball off the top of the backboard.
Trece: "...Get your ugly, yella, no-good keister off my property."
It was a busy week on the trade front in the NBA. First, the Cavaliers, Knicks, and Thunder, exchanged headaches, draft picks, and roster fodder. Then, the 76ers played the Frederic Weis to the Clippers' Vince Carter in taking on Jared Cunningham for basically nothing, freeing up a roster spot for the Clips. Two days later, the Cavaliers traded two protected first-rounders for Timofey Mozgov who'll now be counted upon to save Cleveland's subpar season. To cap it off, the Celtics went draft-pick shopping in two separate deals which landed Brandan Wright in Phoenix and Jeff Green in Memphis. As if the Western Conference needed more firepower.
Regarding the Mozgov trade, most experts seemed to agree: two first-rounders for an average-to-above-average rim protector is a lot to give up, but no pair seemed more inexplicably bitter/hyperbolic about it than one current and one former writer for the Miami Heat:
Cavs basically have gotten a lot of "stuff" lately in Smith, Shumpert and Mozgov. It says something when best you can do is ex-Knicks.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) January 7, 2015
Give David Griffin credit 4 gumption. But after all the assets Cleveland's given up (Wiggins, flexibility) 4 current roster, it better win.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) January 7, 2015
Jilted-lovers' talk aside, I pose the question: let's pretend we're all Larry Bird for a moment, and let's say Dion Waiters hadn't been traded yet. If the Cavaliers had called and said, "Yo, Larry, we'll give you Dion, salary filler, and two future first-rounders for Roy..." would you have said yes?
Miscellaneous Tweets and Threads
Pacers vs. Lakers
Don't feel too good about your team Lakers' fans, it wasn't the first time (for the Pacers) and it won't be the last:
First time the Lakers managed to keep an opponent below 90 pts this season.
Helped, of course, by the fact that Indy went 0/16 from deep for a stretch.
Pacers vs. Jazz
The "Hibbert the Grouch" Effect courtesy of Jazz fans:
Well that was fun
Good game Jazz! And I just want to say that Hibbert annoys the hell out of me
Didn't know I hated him til now
He seems to have a fake toughness about him, or something like that.
that is what Boozer said last night about him
Man, when Boozer is bagging on your toughness...
Pacers vs. Warriors
Watson shoved Livingston off ... and they say he's fouled?
"I don't believe in a ceiling. I believe in a work ethic." - Draymond Green
latest whistle ever
David West never commits a foul in his life
Fourth quarter and the Warriors running away with it:
what is the point spread ref trying to cover it
Win Or Lose Warriors For Life.........
An old coach of mine had a saying that seems applicable to Warriors' fans here: "Winning sometimes breeds entitlement."
Celtics vs. Pacers
Vogel would be so proud:
People seem to forget that Pacers is the 2nd best team in the NBA in defense. Don't expect to shoot lights out against them. Their offense might be garbage, but their defense is great. It's got to be an ugly, grind out game.
exactly. EVERY IND game is UGLY with a capital U
That's their MO. UGLY up every possession and beat you up.
Pacers vs. 76ers
Yeah, Sixers' Fans, we know:
Teams #1 in the league in Steals
1 in the league at forcing turnovers
6 in the league in blocks
9 in Offensive Rebounds
Some nice small qualities to this team
The best Josh-Smith slight ... possibly ever?
Somebody on the Dream Shake had the funniest line ever about a missed (Josh) Smith 3
Had no choice,
it was either that or do something smarter.
It could be worse, Pacers' fans:
Love me some lukewarm Solo love:
Solomon Hill could be good ... one day. He plays a ton and works hard but has horrible on/off splits and little skills. Needs to hit 3s.— Adi Joseph (@AdiJoseph) January 8, 2015
Just because I like random things:
Darvin Ham with the Peanut Butter and Jam!
Oh, and how did we ever survive life without High Definition?
Pacers' schedule for the week:
Tue, Jan. 13: Timberwolves at Pacers, 7:30 PM (EST)
Fri, Jan. 16: Pistons at Pacers, 7:00 PM
Sat, Jan. 17: Pacers at Hornets, 7:00 PM