World Sports

Issue date: April 17, 2017

Courtside -- Anthony L. Cuaycong

Game One takeaway

A frustrated Paul George met members of the media in the aftermath of the Pacers’ loss to the Cavaliers yesterday. Having seen his stunning 30-foot three-point attempt hit nothing but net to bring the visitors to a point with 40 ticks left and, in the process, get an assurance that they would have the last shot of the match, he felt victory was in his grasp. Unfortunately, the final play didn’t quite go the way he wanted. After an outstanding defensive effort that led to a miss, he did have the ball in his hands, only to be thwarted by a double team. He passed with four seconds on the game clock, expecting to be passed to immediately; instead, he saw someone else decide the fate of the blue and gold.

“In situations like that, I gotta get the last shot,” George contended. Forget that the Cavaliers skewed their coverage precisely to prevent him from playing hero. And never mind that C.J. Miles, who received the rock out of a double team, had hitherto torched the defending champions and, in Pacers head coach Nate McMillan’s own assessment, made the right call with time winding down. As far as he was concerned, he should have had the privilege of carving triumph or claiming disappointment. “I’m confident with all of my guys taking shots,” he argued. “That’s not the issue. In that situation, I need the ball.”

For all the dismay Paul showed, he has to be buoyed by the fact that the Pacers hung tough against the Cavaliers. They were in hostile territory, down by double digits a fourth into the final canto, and they actually managed to take the lead. For the most part, they ran their sets exactly how they wanted to, and the experience of coming close should serve them in good stead heading into Game Two of their first-round series in two days. Notwithstanding the could haves, it behooves them to focus on the biggest takeaway of the heartbreaker: Their opponents are vulnerable, and how.

Make no mistake. The Pacers remain the underdogs, if for no other reason than because James toils for the Cavaliers. Nonetheless, they would do well to take heart in the effort they gave. Bottom line, they put themselves in position to prevail. Nothing else need be said. Nothing else matters.

Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is the Senior Vice-President and General Manager of Basic Energy Corp.

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