TSN's Jack Armstrong offers his thoughts on the surprising Indian Pacers, a passive Chris Bosh, John Beilein as a head coach candidate, Scott Brooks' big test and the breakout opportunity for Kawai Leonard.
1. Indiana Pacers: Who were those guys on Sunday? Wow. Where you been? Complete and total all-around performance on both sides of the ball. Can they sustain this for three more wins? Not convinced yet but they surely gained confidence that if they play to the level of their potential like Sunday, they can go toe-to-toe with Miami.
2. Chris Bosh (Heat): Too often was passive on Sunday and didn't exert his will. He's a tough cover on the perimeter for David West and Roy Hibbert. Must show up and play with more energy and efficency. When he's making his mid-range jumper along with a few 3's, the court gets spaced out and the Heat are tough to stop. Need him engaged defensively and on the boards as well.
3. John Beilein (University of Michigan): I've said all along the best target for GM's looking for a head coach was Stan Van Gundy. The Pistons made a smart move getting him. Now I will follow up once again on what I've said many times before. If you are a GM that's progressive and willing to think outside the box instead of hiring a retread former head coach or some name ex-player, go get this guy. Pound for pound as good a coach that's out there today. Some college coaches can't or won't make the NBA jump. I have NO doubt that he'd be an outstanding coup for a pro team. He's a brilliant tactician, developer of talent and as imaginative an offensive mind that you'll find out there today. It will take an owner and GM that have a true sense of the sport but if I were in the shoes of one of the five current teams with an opening, I would be trying to convince him to join my team. Teams spend a fortune in salaries and trying to develop young players yet throw money away doing the same old, same old. I assure you that this guy has IT. Makes a lot and actually too much sense to me.
4. Scott Brooks (Thunder): With Serge Ibaka out for the series, the head coach of the Thunder needs to mix/match with his front court rotations and find a way to get Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in space to create tremendous scoring chances yet make sure the ball moves with a purpose and not be too 'ISO' oriented. Balance and proper usage are critical here. Major test of his creativity.
5. Kawai Leonard (Spurs): Last year's playoffs were a breakout forum for him and that has to continue here. Outstanding defender who will have his hands full at his position and has the shot-making ability on the perimeter to impact the series. He must be that consistent player with all aspects of his game. Need big-time effort out of a guy that can greatly impact the series.