TSN's Jack Armstrong offers his thoughts on the return of Paul George's play, the defensive abilities of Chris Paul, the emergence of Mirza Teletovic, the struggles of Wesley Matthews and the successful formula of the Miami Heat.
1. Paul George (Pacers): Really looked like the All-Star he's been the past few years. Big time 39 point-12 rebound performance in Game #4 vs. the Wizards. Makes seven 3's and is clutch in so many instances for his team. I'm not sure if the Pacers are truly back or if the Wizards don't know how to win as the stakes get higher but I will say that George looks back to normal and then some of late and that's a good sign for his club.
2. Chris Paul (Clippers): Yes, he's the best point guard in the game in my book and in spite of the fact that he gets 23 points and 10 assists in Game #4 vs. OKC, you've got to admire his grit and compete level taking on the defensive challenge of guarding Kevin Durant late. He's an outstanding offensive player yet the thing that stands out to me is his ability to put the clamps on his opponent when need be, regardless of size. Tough competitor and special player.
3. Mirza Teletovic (Nets): Has made 10 3's in the past two games vs the Heat and has them shaking their heads on how to cover him. His 'stretch 4' game is quite a sight to behold when he's dropping long range shots. He opens the whole floor up for his teammates and has been a steady shooter (37 per cent) this season. Looks like he's gaining confidence with each passing game. What a steal for GM Billy King. A skilled and tough second unit guy that teams would love to have.
4. Wesley Matthews (Blazers): Normally close to 40 per cent 3-point shooter during the regular season. Rockets and Spurs have made it a point of making him work for every open look he can get on the perimeter while only shooting 31 per cent in the playoffs. His ability to open things up in the two-man game between LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard has been critical to their success. Spacing is such a huge component of getting the matchups you want to be effective. He's a marked man and the Spurs are making sure he takes tough shots.
5. Miami Heat Formula: They've got the best player on the planet in LeBron James yet it's what they put around him that counts. Of course, Dwyane Wade is a Hall of Famer and when he's healthy, he's still very good. The stretch ability of this team is remarkable. In the playoffs, they're shooting 41 per cent from behind the arc. That's really hard to do. Their spacing and ball movement is impeccable and when you have Ray Allen, Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, James Jones and Shane Battier camping out behind the line, you have to pick your poison; double LeBron and give up 3's or play him single coverage, defend the 3's and hope that LeBron doesn't destroy you. The system works and is well thought out. Fits their personnel to a T. Tough to stop.