Notes from NBA TV’s NBA Fan Night presented by Sprint – Tuesday, Dec. 10: So what the Pacers beat the Heat…what’s next?

 

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Paul George honestly, is not ready to be paired with LeBron. Stop that unnecessary narrative before it starts.

Sports doesn’t have to be this and that or this cat vs. that cat. The actual athletics should be compelling enough to get fans through 48 minutes, 9 innings or an hour of actual time on the gridiron. LeBron James has disposed of every big time competitor on his path to the chip, so until a singular player becomes the reason for his team defeating James and the Heat, no one should honestly be in the discussion. I understand TV and the selling of narratives for the masses, but that doesn’t necessarily mean fans must buy in and continue discussions that will never line their pockets despite obviously filling others. Paul George is capable and I hope he does become an NBA champion, so leave it as that and let the young man develop within the context of his very skilled abilities. We know what LeBron can do and has done, so why even consider discussing a young talented player as a true competitor alongside an athlete as uniquely gifted as any the game has seen? Frame the discussion as Indiana vs. Miami instead of coupling two players as if their names are Magic and Larry….

Even that was some contrivance…Doc brought the game back kids. Magic and Larry simply benefited…as they should have.

Are the Heat and Pacers most likely to play in the 2013-14 Eastern Conference Finals? Of course. Should we put too much on one game because of that? No. Dwyane Wade was out and despite his health issues, we won’t know anything definitively until June.

Voting is open for next week’s game via NBA.com, the NBA Facebook page, NBA TV’s Facebook page, Yahoo.com, NBA.com mobile web, mobile NBA Game Time App, the NBA Game Time from Sprint App, and Twitter.

Fans can select between the following match-ups: Sacramento Kings at Charlotte Bobcats, Portland Trail Blazers at Cleveland Cavaliers or Oklahoma City Thunder at Denver Nuggets.

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AutoTrader.com Pregame Show

Ernie Johnson, Greg Anthony and Chris Webber

 

Anthony on the importance of this season’s first meeting between Miami and Indiana: “This is a very meaningful game for both teams. [Last year’s] championship is over. The Heat are trying to win another championship and the Pacers are trying to win their first. This is like the early rounds of a heavyweight fight. You want to get a feel for what your opponent is capable of. We know what they were last year, but both teams have changed a little bit this year. They want to get a feel, because they know [the East] is going to come down to these two.”

 

Webber on the hype surrounding the Eastern Conference Finals rematch: “[This game] means more to both teams. It’s not the end of the world, but it does mean a lot more for the team without the championship than the team with one.”

 

Anthony on the maturation of Pacers rising star Paul George: “Last year LeBron James was head and shoulders above Paul George as a player. He’s probably just a head above Paul George now. That is a real concern. When the Bulls three-peated, there was Michael Jordan and there wasn’t really a close number two in terms of a guy who could look across from him physically and almost be comparable. When the Lakers did it with Kobe and Shaq, you didn’t have anybody who individually could match up. We might be seeing the maturation of Paul George as a player who we look at on the same level as a LeBron James. That’s how special he’s been this year.”

 

Anthony on George becoming a focal point for the Pacers: “Last year was the first opportunity he had as a player to be the focal point. He took it to another level in the playoffs. Your legacy is defined by what you do in the postseason. For him to play the way he did, with all of the big moments he had, all he’s done for me is validate it this year. This kid is legit. He’s only getting better.”

 

Webber on Kobe Bryant’s performance in his first game back from injury: “Kobe has defied time, gravity, age and a lot of things…but to defy injury and all of that at the same time is going to be hard. I hope people’s memories will allow him to be the player that he is and not expect him to do what he did five years ago. He’s one of the best players to ever play the game. When you’re that good, do we let you bow out gracefully or do you have to be Jordan and push to hit the last shot? If you expect Kobe to average 17 points for the next three years, you’re sadly mistaken.”

 

Anthony on Bryant’s skill set: “The thing that allows Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant to play at such a level in the late stages of their careers is their skill sets. [Bryant] still possesses the best footwork in the game. He still has a terrific mid-range, long-range jump shot. He will make shots where he doesn’t have to work as hard.”

 

Thunder’s Kevin Durant and Pacers’ Paul George tell NBA Fan Night who would win in a one-on-one matchup between the two

 

Durant: “One-on-one is what I do. That’s what I grew up on, so that’s how I molded my game. [Paul George] is one of the top one-on-one players and I’m one of the top as well. I’m not going to say who wins, but I think it’d be a good matchup.”

 

George: “What am I going to do? Beat him. I think it would be tougher for him one-on-one. When we play him he does a lot of movement. I think it would be a pretty even matchup.”

 

Pre-game interview with Pacers head coach Frank Vogel

 

Vogel on whether or not his team approaches the Heat differently than other opponents: “There’s a little extra excitement in this game for a couple reasons. Obviously, any time you play a team that knocked you out of the playoffs the prior year, let alone the prior two years, you’re going to want to come after them a little bit more. We set out to try and earn the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference this year and give ourselves the best chance come playoff time. We feel like with what Miami is capable of these head to head matchups could potentially decide that.”

 

Vogel on how his team has improved since last year: “Our defense picked up where we left off last year. That is an exciting thing to be a part of, guys that really care about that end of the court. I think we’re an improved offense team and we have an improved bench. If you combine that with our defense, we start building confidence that we can accomplish anything.”

 

Vogel on the belief he has in his team: “I have a belief in the players that Larry Bird brings into this organization. He’s the best front office man in the game and has a great basketball mind for [seeing] who’s got the right heart, instincts and skill set.”

 

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Sprint Halftime Report

Johnson, Anthony and Webber

 

Webber on Paul George’s struggles early against the Heat: “Anytime you want to be known as one of the best players in this league you’re going to get more attention. The better you are, the more that’s going to happen. He’s going to have to figure out a way to be impactful without scoring and how to make sure you can force your will and get to the basket when you know everyone has their eyes on you.”  

 

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NBA GameTime presented by Kia

Johnson, Anthony and Webber

 

Webber on the maturity of the Indiana Pacers: “I’m impressed with Indiana. They didn’t start the game off well. Usually, when you have a big intense game at home, either you’re up all game and you’re winning or it’s a tough game and you’re down. In this one, they kept their head. This is what you want to see from the body language, communication and maturity of their team.”

 

Anthony on the physicality of the Heat vs. Pacers: “In the postseason, players win games. This was a postseason type game. It was very physical and both teams got after it.”

 

Webber on the Pacers’ ugly win: “I really like how they won an ugly game. Everybody can win pretty in the hype games. But when it’s ugly and things aren’t going your way, for you to stay in there shows some maturity.”

 

Anthony on Pacers center Roy Hibbert: “He has a ton of confidence. The reality is, the Miami Heat doesn’t have anyone physically that can match up with him. Chris Bosh is trying and Chris Andersen can at times, but they don’t have the size. [Hibbert] is going to get his head under the rim, get really low post position and doesn’t make a lot of negative plays out on the floor. It was a really impressive performance by him tonight.”

 

Post-game interview with Pacers’ Roy Hibbert

 

Hibbert on the importance of winning every game: “Obviously it was a big game for the city and everyone in the community, but to us every game is a big game. A lot of teams say that, but we mean that. We want the No. 1 seed, so we don’t want to lose at all. We treat the Charlotte Bobcats like the Wizards like the Heat. We come in every game prepared.”

 

Hibbert on how he decides what his impact on the game should be each night: “It goes game by game. We have so many weapons on the offensive end. You have to pick and choose sometimes. I wanted to be aggressive from the start tonight. We were kind of slow, but I was moving a little bit to begin the game. I asked the coach, ‘Let me go a little bit. Let me be free.’ He let me get out of my comfort zone and try to be a playmaker.”

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