Man, can the Indiana Pacers can defend.
They gave up only 90.7 points per game during the regular season, good for second-best in the NBA. Their opponents only shoot 42% from the field, the best defensive field goal rate in the NBA, and they averaged 6.3 blocks per game, tied for fourth-best in the NBA.
However, for all their defensive prowess, the Indiana Pacers suck at scoring (and you kind’ve need to score to win games).
The Pacers were 23rd in the NBA in points per game and 28th in assists per game. The Pacers shot 43.6% from the field — by comparison, the Washington Wizards shot 43.5% and the Cleveland Cavaliers shot 43.4%. In addition, the Pacers turned the ball over 15.1 times per game tied for fourth in the NBA with the Washington Wizards and the Detroit Pistons.
Simply put, these Pacers have one of the best defenses in the NBA — and one of the worst offenses in the NBA. And while they might be able to shut down the Miami Heat for a quarter — maybe even a half — they won’t be able to shut down Miami’s explosive offense (which scored an NBA-best 110 points per 100 possessions) for an entire game. And when Miami is able to score or even take the lead, where will Indiana’s scoring come from?
If you take a look at the Pacers’ shot chart from this season, they have shot better than 40% from two spots — right underneath the freakin’ basket (and even from there the Pacers are almost missing as many shots as they make) and mid-range foul line jumpers where they are shooting barely more than 40%.
And if the Pacers ever have to play catchup with the Miami Heat (which they will probably have to at some point in this series), Indiana is simply mediocre from three point range. In none of the three point areas do they shoot more than 40% and from the left corner three area, they only shoot 34% (they make only one shot out of every three they take).
No doubt, the Heat will have trouble scoring against the Pacers. The Indiana Pacers have an elite shot blocker in Roy Hibbert and a good perimeter defender in Lance Stephenson. But the Pacers simply have trouble scoring — and when the Heat are able to put up points (which they inevitably will do), how will the Pacers keep up?
The Indiana Pacers’ Shot Chart from the 2012-2013 Regular Season