New Jersey goaltender Cory Schneider, starting in place of Keith Kinkaid, made 34 saves to help the Devils claw their way back into their first-round series with Tampa Bay on Monday night, beating the Lightning 5-2 in Game 3.
Some of the numbers back Lue up. Even so, this strategy feels exploitable for any team prepared to take what the defense gives.
And that, more than anything, is what the Pacers do. They have a lot of clever, versatile players. They adapt.
One great example: With about 10 minutes left in the game, Cleveland switched against the Cory Joseph-Domantas Sabonis pick-and-roll, leaving Clarkson on Sabonis in the post. Joseph entered the ball. LeBron saw the mismatch, hustled across the paint and dragged Clarkson off Sabonis — and onto LeBron’s original assignment, Booker.
What happened? Booker ducked under the rim with Clarkson on his back, and Sabonis dumped him the ball for a layup. The Pacers have been opportunistic like that all season — a delight to watch.
Game 1 went about as well as could have been expected for us saps who picked Milwaukee to win this series. The Bucks (mostly) ditched the hyperactive trapping defense and formed a shell around the paint, daring the Celtics to find a way inside instead of gifting them one.
Popovich was asked Sunday whether he expected Leonard to rejoin the team at some point during the postseason.
“You’ll have to ask Kawhi and his group that question,” Popovich said. “So far, they say that he’s not ready to go. So we can’t do anything until that happens. Then, we would have to decide what’s going on from there. But that’s the first thing that has to happen.”
Popovich said Leonard remains in New York, where he is continuing to rehabilitate a right quadriceps injury, and Spurs general manager R.C. Buford confirmed that information.
Asked whether there was value in Leonard spending time supporting his teammates during the playoffs, despite being not cleared to play, Popovich declined to address the question specifically.
“He’s rehabbing right now in New York trying to get healthy,” Popovich said.
A source told ESPN’s Chris Haynes that Leonard is improving and undergoing routine exams to determine his progress.
Leonard hasn’t played in a game since Jan. 13, and he has participated in just nine contests all season.