NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 9:
Utah Jazz (4-4) @ Boston Celtics (4-3)
Player Focus: Paul Millsap
Okay ladies and gentlemen, I know these used to be the kiss of death -- but over the last few games I seem to be better capable of predicting who'd going to have a big game. You know what? It's all luck. And against a team with a Shamrock logo (the clover), I'm feeling lucky. Tonight? Against this team? A team with Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass? Two guys around the same size and athletic ability as one of our starters -- it's going to be Paul Millsap's night. It's not like he's going up against guys at the 4 who are way bigger than him like Pau Gasol or Andrea Bargnani. And it's not like if he's going to play at the 3, he'll be too slow to keep up, he's not playing Jamal Crawford here in some small lineup.
Tonight. In Boston. Against a physical team.
C'mon, you'd almost put money on it.
Sap is a freight train, and right now he's been steadily building momentum. He had a slow preseason, and started the regular season off with a bang, but beyond that people haven't been blown away with him. That ends tonight. Well, not really. People are always going to count Millsap out. Did you know that RIGHT NOW when we perceive him to be in a slump, he's still #1 on the Jazz in total points, #2 in PPG, #2 in total rebounds, #2 in RPG, #2 in FG%, #3 in APG, #3 in SPG, AAAAAAANND -- this is him in a slump?
I can see why we think a dude bringing 15.6 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.5 bpg, 1.1 spg, 4.6 FTA/g, who is also making a three every game is in a slump. It's because we expect him to be this great because we've seen him do great things his entire career.
The biggest "great thing" he's doing right now is transforming from a PF hustle guy to an All-Around Forward. I'm kinda meticulous about things. I like to divide people into small forwards and power forwards. And in those two categories there are many sub-categories. The only All-Around Forward (a guy who can play offense and defense, play SF and PF, and do so many things in both categories) in my language is Larry Bird. Even Andrei Kirilenko I label as an All-Around PF . . . but I think Sap has really changed his game quite a bit. And right now he's changing right before our eyes.
This season we were all excited for Gordon Hayward and Marvin Williams holding things down at the SF spot. Maybe the answer all along WAS Paul Millsap? He's not always put in a position to succeed; but tonight against a group of 6'5 to 6'9 guys like Courtney Lee, Paul Pierce, Kris Joseph, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, and Jeff Green . . . this looks like precisely the lineup to see a lot of 'Sap in.
And hey . . . finding more ways to use Sap is exactly what Tyrone Corbin should be doing. Expect him to be the player to focus on tonight.