I think most of us are pretty aware of the still sputtering offense, with FG% that just won't come to life for guys like Danny and Tyler especially, along with a standard slow start to nearly every game they play.
Naturally we all scratch our heads about how they are doing this and typically the answer is roughly rebounding, making plays and then a slight mention of defense.
Now rebounding is great, the Pacer rank FOURTH in rebounding differential, which is about the best read you can get on that stat from the regular numbers.
But I think it's more surprising that the Pacers rank 4th in both AdjustedFG% against and Points Per Shot against, this despite being a bit lower on the 3P% rank and middle of the pack in terms of FTAs allowed.
They are fouling and they are allowing teams to be respectible enough from the arc, but inside the arc they are killing teams, and that's where the wins are coming from.
It's not just Roy either. Paul, Granger, Foster and even Tyler have been tough on people inside. Apart from Foster, each is a surprise in his own way.
Paul has been so inconsistant this year with sudden intensity drops, that it can be overlooked when he collapses to the rim for a big block or disrupts the passing lane, but he's doing this far more than he's "flaking out" on offense.
Granger was a guy most of us were starting to write off as a defensive player, longing for those first few seasons where it seemed to be a Artest-inspired passion. But this year he's also coming to the lane/rim all the time to get in someone's face. Look no further than to his block that led to his taunting technical a few games ago for a classic example.
And while everyone loves Tyler's hustle, in the past a lot of it was misplaced and out of position. Lately he's been much better at closing out on guys, having the hand in the face of the right guy at the right time, and of course still being insanely tenacious around the ball. Best example for him might be taking it straight out of Garnett's hands the other night as KG came to the rim.
West has been professional and solid, but not quite as noticeably dominate. And it would be unfair to discount Hill here because he's also been really good at coming to the paint to disrupt the passing lanes or at least send guys into the paint off balance after having to avoid his defense, setting them up for his teammates.
And on top of it all I think a lot of credit goes to the coaching strategy. The help defense has been great, especially on the drawn out PnR hedges up top where guys like Roy are slow to get back down the lane. In the past this would have crushed the team, but now they seem to always have someone watching their back which makes a huge difference.
I'm sure a pay-stat site could tell us, but I don't know where else we could easily find the stat on "highest PCT of shots coming with 10 seconds or less on the clock" (or 2, 5, whatever), but I'd bet that the team ranks high in that area too. Even when teams pull out shots it's coming after a ton of work cycling through a lot of options and often on a lucky bail out.
You accept those because over time the make rate isn't very high for teams and no one wants their offense living off of "I hope this works". Right now the Pacers defense is forcing a lot of teams to spend most of their night saying just that.
My condolences to those fans that hated the JO/Ron teams (the good ones) because of the ugly defensive ball and low scores because right now it looks like this is the wagon you are hitched to this year.
PS - the teams ahead of Indy on both AFG% and PPS? Bulls, Lakers and Philly. And only the Bulls and Lakers are also better in rebounding differential.
That's the company this team is keeping right now - 3 of the top 5 teams by wins.