- Tip Off: 4:00 p.m. (PT)
- Television: CSN-BA
Indiana Pacers Team Profile
- Offensive Efficiency: 100.6 (20th in NBA)
- Defensive Efficiency: 95.2 (1st in NBA)
- Points: Paul George, 17.6 PPG
- Rebounds: Roy Hibbert, 8.1 RPG
- Assists: George Hill, 4.9 APG
- Steals: Paul George, 1.8 SPG
- Blocks: Roy Hibbert, 2.6 BPG
- Field Goal Percentage: David West, 48.7% FG
- 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: Paul George, 38.7% 3PT FG
Scope the Opposition: 8 points, 9 seconds.
Preview: The Golden State Warriors will start their four-game eastern road trip tonight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse when they take on the Indiana Pacers (35-21) in the game of the night.
Most pundits agree that the Pacers are the second best team in the Eastern Conference and that they are the top threat to take out the defending champions this season because of their seemingly impenetrable defense as well as their emerging offense.
Frank Vogel just recently made a big acquisition after the trade deadline that seems to have gotten very little publicity outside the state of Indiana: the return of Danny Granger.
The Pacers forward struggled in his first game back on Saturday in Detroit, scoring two points on 1-for-10 field goal shooting, but his team was still victorious by double digits.
One might be tempted to think that his return might throw off the chemistry in the short-term, but the Pacers have no such fears according to Tim Donahue of 8 points, nine 9 seconds:
The team’s leader [David West] doesn’t think there is any chance that the return of the team’s captain will disrupt anything — either chemistry-wise or on the court.
The group has played a multitude of games and also grown on the court together.
The Pacers remind me of the 2010 Boston Celtics that went to the NBA Finals because they play with a mental and physical toughness that very few teams can match.
In order to get some better insight into the team, I reached out to Jared Wade of 8 points, 9 seconds.
With Indiana’s offense looking better in the past few games, I asked him what the Pacers had done to ramp it up as of late. His response:
They are pushing the ball. The perimeter players have really looked to get the ball up court quickly, and the way they force teams to miss shots makes it easy. Paul George is grabbing about 9 rebounds per game of late, and Lance Stephenson is always eager to grab a board and race the other way. They have averaged 16.8 fast break points per game in their last four games (compared to 11.8 per game for the season), and that number balloons to 19.8 in the three home wins. A recent uptick in the number of turnovers forced is certainly helping here as well.
And in the half court, players are simply moving better. With defenses rotating and chasing Indiana’s players on cuts, it has both spread the court for more threes and allowed players to duck into the paint for layups. Friday’s 34-point win over the Pistons got completely out of hand, as Detroit couldn’t cover anyone and Indiana scored 82 points either in the paint or from behind the arc.
The increased transition opportunities have certainly provided the Pacers with an increase in scoring but Paul George’s playmaking has certainly helped in this regard as well. But let’s not kid ourselves, Indy’s bread and butter is unquestionably their league-leading defense.
Very few teams have been able to solve it given how stingy it is. But there is an assumption out there that the Pacers’ defensive brilliance is a product of Roy Hibbert’s individual excellence. Jared Wade, our Pacers go-to guy, helped debunk that “myth”:
Roy Hibbert’s ability to protect the rim is certainly a big part of the team’s stingy defense. But you’re right: this isn’t a Dikembe Mutombo or Dwight Howard performance that completely changes the way the whole team plays. The Pacers, for instance, rarely force a lot of turnovers, so this isn’t the typical case where the perimeter plays are free to run around gambling because they know there is a shot eraser behind them.
No, this team’s defense is so great because everyone is playing on a string and with discipline. The close-outs and rotations are assembly-line efficient, people rarely get beat off the hoop, the help is always there and the pick-and-roll strategy is consistent. More often than not, a team isn’t going to get a layup or a three pointer. The Pacers defense, by design, forces them to take mid-range jumpers.
The Warriors were one of the last teams to really succeed by shooting the three against the Pacers. They made 9-for-20 from behind the arc in their December 1st win. That has been the exception rather than the rule, however, and it will be tough to replicate playing in Indiana.
Needless to say, tonight’s matchup promises to be a difficult one for the Warriors, but that’s just it; it wouldn’t be the game of the night if it wasn’t.
Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at [email protected].