Former Indiana Pacers guard Reggie Miller, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in September, will be the analyst on the Thunder-Bulls telecast at 7 p.m. Thursday on TNT, working with play-by-play announcer Kevin Harlan and reporter Craig Sager. Miller talked about the Thunder, flopping and the Bulls:
In the preseason, I know you picked the Thunder to win the Western Conference. Do you still feel that way?
Before the (James) Harden trade, I had them as my favorite. Chemistry is going to the big thing and the big component going forward — how quickly can Kevin Martin understand the schemes and the plans of Scotty Brooks, the timing with Russell Westbrook, how to play off Kevin Durant? As quickly as that becomes apparent, with their youth, there is no other team in the Western Conference that can compete at that level with them. I still put them as the favorite to win, but the chemistry is something I have to be a little bit more cognizant of.
What is their main weakness?
They have a lot of young players, and turnovers first and foremost. No team has ever won an NBA championship that led the league in turnovers. To be so young, athletic, energetic, you've got to secure the basketball. You don't want to give good teams two, three or four looks at the basket. If you can control your turnovers, because they're so lethal at the offensive end with Durant, Westbrook, Kevin Martin and an up-and-coming Serge Ibaka, that would be their weak link and chemistry. Can Eric Maynor come back and be the same player he was before the knee injury? It's almost like getting a new player with him.
I know you had a reputation as a flopper. Have you seen any effects of the league's crackdown on flopping?
I haven't seen it at all, but again you're talking to someone who made a career out of it. I'm not necessarily calling it flopping, I'm calling it selling. I sold plays. Now if the official is in the right position and missed it, that's not my problem. Looking at the videotape that the league sent out that showed some of the flopping, I haven't seen it the first week of the games. Obviously guys know what the fines are and they're going to be good at masking things.
What do you expect from the Bulls?
(Coach) Tom Thibodeau has some interesting decisions to make this season with Derrick Rose out until the end of February. Can his teams find ways to score enough points to win? I know how coach Thibodeau attacks defensively that they will be in most games. In past years in close games, what they had at the end of the day was to throw the ball to Derrick Rose and he could go make a play. There is no one on this team who can go make their own play. Can they stay afloat with their defensive effort?