View Full Version : CNNSI: Pacers buying into O'Brien's system

11-28-2007, 02:47 PM
"DENVER - The Indiana Pacers are a team built in Jim O'Brien's image.

They score (102.8 points per game, ninth in the league). They push the ball on offense. They shoot first and ask questions later. And they love the three-point shot.

Defense? Let's call the defense a work in progress.

Solid defense has long been a hallmark of O'Brien's teams. O'Brien and defensive guru Dick Harter have carefully crafted a team-oriented defensive package that places an emphasis on weak-side help and takes full advantage of the 2.9 seconds the league allows players to camp out in the lane without choosing a defender. It's the same system that helped Boston advance to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002 and the one that guided Philadelphia to the playoffs in '05. O'Brien's system is not unique, but it is certainly one of the more complex schemes to learn in the NBA.

"It is kind of complex," says Pacers associate head coach Lester Conner. "Take the pick and roll: When we are defending the pick and roll, it's not just two guys defending it; the whole team has responsibility."

While the Pacers have been effective at keeping opponents' field goal percentage down (44.1 percent, eighth in the NBA), they have given up points by the bundle: 105.3 per game, to be exact. Tuesday night's win over the Nuggets was a microcosm for Indiana's season. The Pacers held Denver to 36.1 percent shooting but gave up 110 points in the process. Denver was successful behind the three-point line (40.9 percent) and took advantage of another Indiana Achilles' heel: fouls. Entering Tuesday's game the Pacers led the league in personal fouls. They were also called twice for illegal defense ("we get called for a lot of them," said forward Mike Dunleavy), a sign that the players are still getting used to O'Brien's idea of help defense.

"Some of the things we do here are contrary to other [teams'] defenses," explained O'Brien. "It took time to pick it up in Boston. It took time to pick it up in Philadelphia. Once they get it, they will learn to trust each other -- and they will get it."

O'Brien's players agree with him.

"You have to wash away pretty much everything you have learned," Dunleavy said. "It has to come natural so we don't have to think about it. But it's only been two months. We'll get it."

One of the early problems has been the lack of a defensive anchor. In Boston O'Brien had Tony Battie, who had a PhD in O'Brien's defense and wreaked havoc in the paint. In Philadelphia, there was Samuel Dalembert. Two premier shot blockers who excel at help defense.

All-Star forward Jermaine O'Neal should be that anchor in Indiana, but O'Neal has missed four straight games with a knee injury. O'Neal practiced twice on Tuesday and appears ready to return to the lineup, but he will need time to make the same adjustments his teammates are making. If and when he does, the Pacers could be an interesting team to watch."

Link: http://fannation.com/blogs/post/83026

Source: CNNSI.com


Mourning :cool:

11-28-2007, 03:01 PM
Good article.

It's nice to know that if we can cut that to only 1 defensive three-seconds and maybe cut out 1 or 2 personal fouls per night (which presumably occur more because our rotations are slow) our PPG given up will likely drop by up to 3-4 each game.

11-28-2007, 03:03 PM
I love watching this defense (I enjoyed when they ran it in Boston and Philly) it is really unique, there are a ton of zone principles to it, and if the players don't trust each other - it will never work. There is so much activity and so much going on it is fun to watch.

11-28-2007, 05:05 PM
Entering Tuesday's game the Pacers led the league in personal fouls.After last night's officiating debacle, I'm not surprised.

11-28-2007, 05:22 PM
After last night's officiating debacle, I'm not surprised.

I just hope the Pacers aren't getting the reputation for fouling a lot. The jazz usually lead the league in committing fouls

11-28-2007, 05:52 PM
I just hope the Pacers aren't getting the reputation for fouling a lot. The jazz usually lead the league in committing fouls
Too late. Harrison picked up a couple fouls last night on reputation alone.