The NBA HORSE Challenge, which will feature Indiana Fever legend Tamika Catchings matching up against Utah Jazz guard and Lawrence North-product Mike Conley, starts tonight at 7 PM on ESPN and will continue with the semi-finals and finals on April 16.
Catchings, a regular-season MVP (2011), Finals MVP (2012), and 2012 WNBA Champion who recently was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with a long list of career achievements, including five Defensive Player of the Year awards and 10 All-Star Game selections, is one of the most prolific scorers in WNBA history; but, she wasn’t the strongest shooter.
Over her 15-year career, Catchings shot just 33.3 percent on shots classified as jump-shots, compared to 38.2 percent from Conley. Per PBP stats, which only has access to WNBA stats going back to 2009, Conley also appears to be more adept at scoring from all three levels, as he’s shot north of 35 percent from both mid-range areas as well as on threes.
Of course, all of these numbers are against defense and don’t account for trick shots, switching hands, or calling bank, so all of this could easily go out the window once the (moderately?) bright lights go on at their home gyms.
As is usual, the first player to accumulate the letters H.O.R.S.E. after failing to match five shots will be eliminated.
Here’s a look at the other first-round pairings:
- Trae Young vs. Chauncey Billups
- Zach LaVine vs. Paul Pierce
- Chris Paul vs. Allie Quigley
And, here’s some more information about how the single-elimination tournament will work, per ESPN:
A coin toss will establish the shooting order for the players, with the more senior player calling heads or tails. Players must describe each shot attempt, specifying the type of score they intend to make before taking a shot, such as a bank shot or swish. Dunking is prohibited.
Actual basketball obviously isn’t an option right now, so shouts to all of these current and former players for attempting to bring some form of competition to the masses, but why not get some of these same voices, particularly the former champions, involved in providing live commentary from some of their marquee games?
Catchings, Pierce, and Billups commentating their respective performances as Finals MVPs? Yes, please — well, maybe, with the exception of what happened during the Eastern Conference Finals in 2004.
As always, please feel free to share your thoughts about the HORSE tournament and anything else Pacers-related in the comments section. Stay safe!