PODCAST: What Will Intimidate the Pacers in the Playoffs?

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The Miami Heat do not intimidate the Indiana Pacers. That much was very, very clear in their matchup Wednesday night.

But you know what intimidates the Pacers? The moment.

We saw it last year in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals when they looked like deer in the headlights. And we saw it again Wednesday night when George Hill went to the line with 1.8 seconds left and a chance to put Indiana ahead by 3 – and promptly missed both free throws.

My biggest question regarding the Pacers is whether they have the moxie and confidence to get the job done in a winner-take-all game.

And we already know that the Heat possess those characteristics.

More on that subject, plus a spirited defense of the Philadelphia 76ers, in this interview on 1070-TheFan with Michael O’Grady and Joe Staysniak on “The Grady & Big Joe Show” in Indianapolis.

Online Basketball Radio at Blog Talk Radio with Sheridan Hoops Radio on BlogTalkRadio

PODCAST: The MVP Debate — Who Will Finish Second?

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Kevin Durant is going to be the MVP. There’s no stopping him, and nobody is doing anything remotely close to what he is doing on offense for Oklahoma City. He might even win the award unanimously.

So that steers the MVP argument toward who should finish second, and I have been making the case for two weeks now that Blake Griffin is the most deserving candidate (although his missed FT late in regulation against the Pelicans was especially costly last night).

I have Griffin ranked No. 2 (and Joakim Noah ranked No. 3) in my latest MVP rankings, with LeBron James fourth. And after the Heat lost yet again last night, falling in Indiana, I would say my argument has been strengthened.

That was one of the topics of discussion this morning on AM830-KLAA on the Travis Rodgers show, but we also hit upon how Phil Jackson will try to rebuild the Knicks, how long the mediocrity window will stay open for the Los Angeles Lakers, and several other hot NBA topics. Enjoy.

New Basketball Podcasts with Sheridan Hoops Radio on BlogTalkRadio

SH Blog: Aldridge rushing return; Kobe calls out Shaq; Bosh says Big 3 will return to Miami; Westbrook uncertain of playoffs minute restriction

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AldridgeLillardSH1As teams continue to jockey for position in the Western Conference — and fight for 50 wins just to get in — one of the early season darlings continues to sink.

That would be the Portland Trailblazers. Once the talk of the NBA, the Blazers have hit a rough patch at the worst possible time, losing nine of their last 13 games and are now just a half game ahead of the Golden State Warriors for the 6th spot in the West. 

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SH Blog: What’s wrong with the Pacers and Heat? Shaq investigated on assault; Mark Jackson in trouble in Golden State

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Paul georgeAs the NBA regular season finally hits the home stretch before what promises to be a highly entertaining two months of playoff basketball, a few of the leagues elite teams find themselves riding the struggle bus.

The two-time defending champion Miami Heat needed a strong finish against Portland on Monday just to avoid a sub .500 March. Bad losses to Boston, New Orleans and Denver were all contributors to this stretch of underwhelming play. 

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Suns Making Madness of Their Own, Taking Over Most Improved Rankings

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GoranDragicSH1March is about underdogs.

That’s why we love it so much. Well, most of us anyway. (Can someone check Chris Bernucca for a pulse?)

Just kidding, boss.

It’s the incredible stories like Mercer’s upset of Duke, Dayton’s run to the Sweet 16 and Stephen F. Austin’s miraculous comeback against VCU that keep us glued to the TV screen in March, like a month-long Rob Ford press conference.

There’s nothing like a good underdog narrative, and year after year, the NCAA Tournament delivers with several remarkable ones. It’s entertainment at its highest form.

In the NBA, a similar underdog story has been unfolding. It just doesn’t get as much pub because the scrappy overachiever role doesn’t play as well when you’re pulling in $5 million a year.

The Phoenix Suns are a collection of nobodies from nowhere, seemingly cast together like the Cleveland Indians in Major League, waiting for the draft lottery.

Yet here they are in late March, on pace to win 48 games and holding on to the final playoff spot out West. Phoenix has won four in a row and six of eight since Eric Bledsoe’s return from injury, including back-to-back nail-biters over Minnesota and Atlanta.

They’ve got six legitimate contenders for Most Improved Player – including current rankings leader Goran Dragic, who not only held down the fort in Bledsoe’s absence but also snuck into Sheridan’s MVP rankings for a while.

This is Goran Dragic we’re talking about, people!

If that isn’t a true underdog story, then Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story isn’t a true underdog story.

And in a season when tanking has become commonplace and teaching young players how to lose (see: Michael Carter-Williams) is apparently OK, the Suns are showing the value of competing with youngsters and not waiting for ping-pong balls to decide their fate.

It was a bold strategy by first-year GM Ryan McDonough. But it’s paying off for them.

On to the rankings.

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