SH Blog: Will Pacers bench Hibbert? Kerr and Knicks in deep talks; Popovich named coach of the year

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hibbertInnovation must come from experimentation at the edge, not just from ideas generated by the center.

For Frank Vogel and the Indiana Pacers, this is a mantra that must be embraced if they want to turn their fortunes around.

What they are doing now isn’t working. There’s nothing else to it. 

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Pacers-Hawks Playoff Preview: Five Key Factors

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yawnDo they have to play this series? Do we really have to watch it and pay close attention?

Look, we all know how bad the Leastern Conference was this season, and we all knew that there would be at least one bad team crashing the party. And the one we ended up with is an Atlanta Hawks team whose general manager, Danny Ferry, said a few weeks back that it really didn’t matter if the Hawks qualified for the postseason or not.

Way to set the bar high, Danny.

So the Hawks come in after having gone 38-44 in the regular season, although they did finish with a flourish by defeating Indiana, Brooklyn and Miami during April. They go up against an Indiana Pacers team that has been going through such a crisis over the past month that coach Frank Vogel benched all of his starters a week ago for a game against the Milwaukee Bucks that the Pacers needed to have to stay in contention for the No. 1 seed.

Scotto: Brooklyn Nets are Legit Contenders After Sweeping LeBron — UPDATED

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LeBron James trophyNo team has done what the Nets have done. And going into the playoffs, what they’ve done should not be dismissed.

On Tuesday, the Brooklyn Nets became the first team ever to post a 4-0 season series sweep over LeBron James since he entered the league more than a decade ago.

After being crowned by the Nets, James took out his frustration on TNT’s Craig Sager during a postgame interview when asked if Brooklyn was Miami’s biggest challenge in the East.

“Get out of here, Craig,” James replied. “Next question.”

While James avoided the question, there’s no denying it – Brooklyn has a legitimate chance to win the East now.

May: Frank Vogel is Glad He Is Not a New Jersey Devil

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aprilfoolsBack on April Fools Day, Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser, the hosts of ESPN’s popular ‘Pardon The Interruption,’ opened the show with a segment speculating that Larry Bird was about to come down and replace Frank Vogel as the head coach of the reeling Indiana Pacers.

They talked about how the team was sliding and that something needed to be done. Bird, who had coached the Pacers before – albeit more than a decade ago – had been critical of the team, saying it needed to be tougher.

Then, after tantalizing its viewers with this possible coup d’etat, Wilbon and Kornheiser announced that it was all an April Fools Day joke.

Hmmmm.

Here’s the thing about April Fools Day ruses: They only work if there’s a degree of believability to them. Had Wilbon and Kornheiser announced that Larry Brown was coming back to coach the Pacers, and leaving SMU, well . . . OK, that’s probably not a good example. But you get the drift. The reason the joke worked was because it was credible.

Nothing has changed in the last nine days to make it any less credible; the Pacers are 2-2 heading into Friday night’s biggie in Miami.

Bernucca: Have Pacers Lost Belief in Themselves?

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Believe it or not, there’s someone out there who doesn’t think the Indiana Pacers are coming apart at the seams. Lance Stephenson

“Everybody goes through this,” Spurs guard Tony Parker said last week after San Antonio manhandled Indiana, 103-77, on the Pacers’ home court. “I’m not worried about them. They’ll still make it to the Eastern Conference finals and they’ll still play Miami.”

Parker is somewhat right. From time to time, every championship contender has a stretch during a season where they look ordinary. Addled. Even awful at times.

Last month, the Miami Heat lost three in a row and seven of 11, including a home contest to Denver and a visit to New Orleans after which Chris Bosh plainly said, “We suck.”

The Oklahoma City Thunder welcomed back Russell Westbrook as they came out of the All-Star break and immediately lost three straight and five of eight, including a home loss to Cleveland and a road setback to the L.A. Lakers. The Houston Rockets were a pedestrian 8-8 in December, losing at home and on the road to Sacramento, at Utah and being blasted at Oklahoma City and Indiana.

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