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Days before he faced LeBron, Paul George said Durant is NBA’s toughest cover

Dec 10, 2013, 1:29 PM EDT

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Five Getty Images

Paul George not only has to be the focal point of the Indiana Pacers offense, but also he usually gets assigned to cover the other team’s best wing player. LeBron James does too, but often only for a quarter or so. Even Michael Jordan had a great defender in Scottie Pippen to carry the load at that end of the floor.

Sunday night Paul George was assigned Kevin Durant. Tuesday night he will be on LeBron James.

So George, who is the tougher cover?

Durant.

That’s what he told the Pacers official Web site (hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie).

“It is,” he said. “It is a tougher matchup. I watch their games, I watch a lot of NBA games. And offensively, KD is most of the times he’s scoring in bunches off of iso plays and one-on-one plays.

“And when they play against us, he’s moving a lot. He’s the screener, he’s getting back-screened and he’s coming off pin-downs and it’s a little different when I’m guarding him and it makes it a tougher cover.”

Indiana uses Durant differently than Miami uses LeBron. Durant has gotten 11.2 percent of his shot attempts this season coming off a screen (and against the Pacers he had no isolations sets), while that is just 4 percent for LeBron. Durant does a little more in isolation and a little more as the ball handler in the pick-and-roll. LeBron gets 16.8 percent of his attempts in the post (10.8 percent for Durant) and LeBron gets 21 percent of his chances in transition. This season LeBron has been the more efficient scorer with a true shooting percentage of 68.3 percent to Durant’s still impressive 61.4.

Just stylistically James is the better and more willing passer, which makes the assignment different.

Based on what we saw in the playoffs last year, expect to see a lot of LeBron in the post, but when Roy Hibbert helps or is hovering around looking to help LeBron will pass out of the double and try to find an open man for a better look. Durant will come off screens as the Thunder try to wear down . Which isn’t a bad idea — if you have Kevin Durant on your team let him do his thing.

Tonight’s Heat/Pacers matchup should be interesting. Moot when it comes to these teams meeting in the Eastern Conference Finals (there are no statement games in December, plus both teams hold things back) but interesting nonetheless. These teams are evolving, how do they match up right now.

Plus George gave LeBron a little bulletin board material. That could be dangerous.

  1. miamiheatdynasty - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    Maybe sum1 should remind him about Game 3 ECF 2013, when LBJ worked him in the post like a B-Team player.

    • bougin89 - Dec 10, 2013 at 4:00 PM

      Lebron was far from dominant in that game. In 41 minutes he had 22 points (8/17 from the field) 4 rebounds and 3 assists. That’s what teams hope they can contain Lebron to.

      It was the Pacers offense(specifically George, Stephenson and Hansborough) that looked like a B-Team in that game.

    • pbtunpaidwriter - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:41 PM

      Durant’s length alone makes him impossible to guard. He can stop on a dime and shoot over the top of anyone. His shot is wet and his soft touch is amazing. Add his handle to someone of his size and he’s unguardable. Throw the kitchen sink at him and you’ll lose. Combine all this with his improved passing this year and it’s just not fair.

      Also, there is no way he’s 6’9″. Ibaka is listed at 6’10” and Collison is around the same, and Durant’s clearly looks taller than them making him a legit 6’11”.

  2. kso1234 - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    What he likely means it that it is easier to limit LBJ scoring against you in one-on-one situations than Durant. Which regardless of anyone’s feelings is a true statement, Durant is taller and a quicker jumper. It’s LBJ’s complete package which makes him the leagues best player — not his abilities in isolation.

    • kso1234 - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:50 PM

      *is that* not *it that*

  3. therealroman - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    I think he’s talking about KD’s variety of attack moves, when I’m watching Lebron I see him dominate the game by dominating the ball & creating good looks for his teammates, bullying his way inside & obviously killing everything breathing in transition. He can shoot there’s no doubt, but you’ll mostly see him take it inside or set up his teammates. That’s the most efficient way to score, hence his true shooting percentage.
    KD is different, he takes shots from everywhere on the floor, and he gets his shots off totally different than Lebron, often using his long arms + height to shoot off dribble over his defender. Remember that game-winning transition bucket he got against Memphis (I believe) last year?!? Little pull-up 12 footer? That’s a perfect example, the man simply has a touch that’s almost unheard of.
    I think George was talking about that specific ability to get his shot off whenever and wherever (plus the various screen plays & pin downs they run for him), he’s more of a pure scorer than Lebron.
    LBJ will be determined to whoop Indiana anyways, it’ll be an ultra-tough matchup anyways, I don’t think those (honest) comments by Georger are gonna make a differnece with that

  4. therealroman - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    I think he’s talking about KD’s variety of attack moves, when I’m watching Lebron I see him dominate the game by dominating the ball & creating good looks for his teammates, bullying his way inside & obviously killing everything breathing in transition. He can shoot there’s no doubt, but you’ll mostly see him take it inside or set up his teammates. That’s the most efficient way to score, hence his true shooting percentage.
    KD is different, he takes shots from everywhere on the floor, and he gets his shots off totally different than Lebron, often using his long arms + height to shoot off dribble over his defender. Remember that game-winning transition bucket he got against Memphis (I believe) last year?!? Little pull-up 12 footer? That’s a perfect example, the man simply has a touch that’s almost unheard of.
    I think George was talking about that specific ability to get his shot off whenever and wherever (plus the various screen plays & pin downs they run for him), he’s more of a pure scorer than Lebron.
    LBJ will be determined to whoop Indiana anyways, it’ll be an ultra-tough matchup anyways, I don’t think those (honest) comments by George are gonna make a differnece with that

  5. therealroman - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    I think he’s talking about KD’s variety of attack moves, when I’m watching Lebron I see him dominate the game by dominating the ball & creating good looks for his teammates, bullying his way inside & obviously killing everything breathing in transition. He can shoot there’s no doubt, but you’ll mostly see him take it inside or set up his teammates. That’s the most efficient way to score, hence his true shooting percentage.
    KD is different, he takes shots from everywhere on the floor, and he gets his shots off totally different than Lebron, often using his long arms + height to shoot off dribble over his defender. Remember that game-winning transition bucket he got against Memphis (I believe) last year?!? Little pull-up 12 footer? That’s a perfect example, the man simply has a touch that’s almost unheard of.
    I think George was talking about that specific ability to get his shot off whenever and wherever (plus the various screen plays & pin downs they run for him), he’s more of a pure scorer than Lebron.
    LBJ will be determined to whoop Indiana anyways, it’ll be an ultra-tough matchup anyways, I don’t think those (honest) comments by George are gonna make a difference with that

  6. soflasfinest - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    I’m a Heat and LBJ fans and I would agree. PG isn’t bashing lebron by saying that either. Durant is the best one on one scorers in the league hands down. Wet J from basically everywhere AND he has sick handles. Oh, being 7ft doesn’t hurt either.

    • southbeachtalent - Dec 10, 2013 at 3:16 PM

      Totally agree, Lebron’s a distributor/scorer. KD scores from the parking lot

    • garyostrowski - Dec 10, 2013 at 6:03 PM

      7 FEET????????? You need to seriously settle down there guy. He is no where near 7 FEET. I was at his NBA combine. He is 6 foot 9, which is extremely tall and that is his REAL height. You need to chill with you’re drama

  7. greej1938l - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    Biggest factor here is that he is bigger, hence making it harder. Even If he is a twig

  8. doc305 - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    It’s the same thing as when Kobe said that Melo was a tougher cover.. all nba players know that if they disrupt Lebron’s plans when vhe has the ball he will just pass it off to an open teammate, both melo and KD (KD has improved his passing quite a bit these last few years.) are more likely to take a difficult shot. I think many players think that since they “force” Lebron to pass the ball, he is more guard-able. Lebron has been criticized for years because of he’s willingness to pass at almost any opportunity
    I don’t think that PG or Kobe mean to say that either KD or Melo are “better players” than Lebron.

  9. vi3tguy415 - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    UHHH DUHHHH. theres no finesse in lebum’s game. only strength. sure, he might be a better player but on offense, Durant all day. its night and day.

  10. ravenswhat - Dec 10, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    KD is a scorer. He will never have Lebrons all around game though he has def upped his numbers in assists and reb over the years.

    Lets be honest though, Lebron could score 40 per game if he wanted to.

  11. theromeo2k - Dec 10, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    Watch Indiana get blown out on their home floor by a another team with a winning record…

    • theromeo2k - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:51 PM

      My statement was half way true…Heat just got disinterested in the second half and let Indiana have it so they can shut up for once.

  12. antistratfordian - Dec 10, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    Haha. He mad. Of course he’s only played Durant a handful of times. Always getting owned by LeBron would make anyone bitter. D.Rose just went through the same thing with a similar dismissive reaction.

  13. 1972wasalongtimeago - Dec 10, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    Man Indiana likes to talk. Talking all ECFs. Talking all offseason. Blah blah blah. You know who deserved to beat Miami more than Indiana? San Antonio. And do you ever hear anyone from SA saying anything to anyone about it that even comes close to sour grapes or barking at the moon? No. You don’t. You know who else didn’t talk? The post 2011 finals Heat. Never said anything Bout the would/coulda/shouldas and just played ball.

    Tonight’s result is meaningless, but if for other reason than to finally shut them up, Indiana’s house of cards has got to fall.

    • davidly - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:22 AM

      If you’re gonna accuse a metonym of “talking”– you might want to at least address some of that talk specifically, otherwise it just sounds like the unhinged ravings of a loon.

  14. cwilson6843 - Dec 10, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    Does it matter? Anyways Durant and the thunder couldn’t beat the pacers in 7 games while LeBron led the heat past the pacers 2 Times in a row now. Who cares about a one on one when there’s 10 players on the court

  15. dinofrank60 - Dec 10, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    Why is this BB material?

  16. fnf417 - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:28 PM

    This Indiana team is good and gonna be better when granger is back in the lineup

  17. soundsofsuccess7 - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    “Indiana uses Durant a little bit different than Miami uses Lebron”.. I paraphrase of course.. Interesting that Indiana uses Durant this way

  18. fnf417 - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    Keep in mind that Indiana didn’t have their regular season leading scorer in the ECF’s against Miami

  19. losanginsight - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:55 PM

    Looks like LBJ can’t play the 5. This should this should put an end to the “Lebron can guard every position” stupidity. George held her to 17. It’s not playoffs so the refs weren’t really a factor. If this was a playoff game, Roy would have been called for foul #4 before the 3rd period. Not 3 not 4 not 5.

    • cwilson6843 - Dec 12, 2013 at 12:38 AM

      And Paul George only had 4pts in the first half. It wasn’t til they took LeBron off him he could finally score

  20. davidly - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:25 AM

    From the subjective perspective of an Indiana fan, it is clear that Durant is the tougher match-up. I’ll take tonight’s win, tho’.

  21. cruzan80 - Dec 11, 2013 at 7:52 AM

    Lebron can’t shoot….sure like almost any good NBA player he can definitely get hot on any given night…but teams don’t respect his jump shot. LBJ fan boys head’s will explode reading this but it’s the truth. Defenders give him the jump shot & play the drive. You can’t try this with Durant, Kobe, Melo or even Pierce. Their jumpers are just as effective as their drive to the basket. This doesn’t make any of them “better” players than LBJ…just better scorers….which in turn would make them harder to defend.

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