Armstrong: Thoughts on Pacers' bench and Thunder's starters

Jack Armstrong
5/21/2014 12:57:45 PM
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1. CHRIS ANDERSON (Heat): He played big last night with 12 rebounds. One of those unsung players with a cast of stars that does the dirty work and plays with incredible energy.

When you play the Pacers you need one of your big guys to stand his ground and match their physicality and paint dominance. The 'Bird-Man' has not backed down in his game whatsoever. Miami had lots of concerns with their ability to match Indy in the paint. If Anderson plays like he did last night it will go a long way towards winning this series.

2. PACERS BENCH: Nine points? Gotta get a whole lot more from this unit. I know that Evan Turner was sick, but when you reflect on his contributions since coming over from Philly for Danny Granger, it hasn't worked out the way they'd like. When Rasual Butler - at this stage of his career - is your top scorer off the bench you've got some challenges to overcome.

I've always been a fan of Luis Scola, but if the Pacers could rewind things back a year, they'd be more than happy to have Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee back from the Phoenix Suns. Can't do anything about that now.

Simply put - more production needed.

3. TONY PARKER (Spurs): In Game 1, he was brilliant with 14 points, 12 assists and only one turnover. He was masterful at getting into the lane and breaking the defence down. He changes speeds as well as anyone in the game today and is so crafty getting his shot off in traffic. Good to see that the nagging hamstring issue wasn't a problem. A major impact guy when he's right - and was he ever right!

4. KEVIN DURANT AND RUSSELL WESTBROOK (Thunder): Played 41 and 36 minutes respectively in Game 1. I know Westbrook has had knee issues, but whatever extra few minutes he can play - he's gotta play. And if I'm Scott Brooks, I don't ever substitute KD out of the game. With no Serge Ibaka they need their best players to play every possible minute. Will be a significant chore to overcome that challenge.

5. OKC'S OTHER STARTERS (Nick Collison/Kendrick Perkins/Thabo Sefolosha): A combined five points on 2-10 shooting in Game 1? Seriously? Man I feel for Scott Brooks - he's searching for answers and more importantly if these guys continue to be ineffective it allows the Spurs to leave them and 'Gang up' defensively on Westbrook and Durant, making them take even more difficult shots.

You must have shot makers and guys who you have to guard who space the floor out. If not, the court gets very congested and your stars are limited in the types of quality possessions they have. Can't win this series with this type drag on your offense from three struggling players. They pick it up and they give The Big Two a fighting chance - that's all you ask for.

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