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Thread: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

  1. #1
    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    I think we can start discussing this question. My short answer is I think it is or at least it might be.

    IMO here are the best pacers defensive teams - in no order

    1994 - Brown's first season. You had a healthy McKey, AD, DD, Workman. All great defenders.
    Byron Scott was also very underrated.

    1995 - You did lose some when you replaced Workman with Mark Jackson. But Dale and Antonio were more experienced and confident, and McKey was just as good as the year before.

    2004 - Best defensive player in the NBA - Artest. A great defensive tandem in Foster and JO. I think this is the best defensive frontline we have ever had. Sure 1995 was good too, but Smits really brought it down a few notches. But when the Davis boys and Mckey were in the game together that was better than 2004.

    2012 - Stats wise this is the best of the 4. once Granger comes back and you have Paul George, George Hill and Danny, I will argue that is by far the best perimeter group of defenders we have ever had as a group. West is very solid and experienced. Hibbert's only weakness is on pick and rolls and when he has to come away from the lane area. Roy is our best combination of shotblocker and basket protector we have had.

    Coaching - Brown, Carlisle, Vogel. You would have to go with Larry Brown above the other two. Also a factor is the rules were so different back in 1995 that it was easlier to play defense back then.

    The Bird years the pacers were solid defensively as a team, but not nearly as good as the 4 teams discussed here. You added Rose and Mullen, Smits and Mckey both were not nearly as good. if it weren't for Dale Davis, the late 90's teams would have been poor defensively
    Last edited by Unclebuck; 12-20-2012 at 10:48 AM.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    Even though I'd prefer to forget about them in hindsight, that 04 team was pretty dominant defensively. Defense was the main reason we won 61 regular season games. Though I will forever dislike him, Artest was the true MVP of that team, IMO. It's no coincidence that our best regular season of the JO/Artest years was the season in which Artest managed to stay out of trouble for most of the year. Artest playing at a high level is what truly made that an elite team.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    The big change this year is that West has become a really strong team defender. He does a good job denying baseline access and he also uses his size inside to take up space. He has been a pretty good help defender as well. I think a huge part of this is more time for his knee to heal. He's never been a dominant defender, but last year was maybe the worst I have ever seen him on D in his career, he wasn't moving quite the same as he is now.

    I don't know it's tough to say, we are only 26 games in, but I am really impressed with our D. Our offense has been really bad so the fact we are 2 games over .500 without maybe our best player or at least one of our best players is pretty good IMO.

    The more Paul develops and becomes a dominant force, the less Hibbert will get exposed on PnR. You are already starting to see it. Paul has stretches where he is a hurricane on defense because of his length. He had a sequence last night against Utah where he was able to go from the paint to the 3 point line and back in about 3 steps and he totally shut down Utah's inside-out action.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    That is a tough one. Right now, I would probably give the nod to the 2004 team. Just because of Artest and JO alone. That was one bad a@# team that should have won the championship the following year.

    What I hope is when Danny comes back we are even better at D, and when all is told and we look back on this team, I hope we will all think that this is the best defensive team ever.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    The only "weakness" to our defense is when the opposing team has a 5 that can consistently hit 16 ft, spot up J's. They run pick and roll to death, and either the big has that open J, or the guard is able to pull up and hit the J. Most of our losses have come with opposing team's hitting mid range, fade away jump shots (Jennings the other night, Durant in OKC, Parker at BLF)

    To answer the question--I think we are easily the longest, strongest, and most athletic defensive team we've had from top to bottom. With the exception of DJ and Hans, most of the players within our rotation are quite long and strong for their position. Even Green has shown some good ability defensively with weakside blocks from time to time.

    The 2004 team was very, very good defensively. BUT I think experience, and coaching had as much to do with that than anything. Artest was at his peak, JO and Foster patrolling the paint. But aside from that, nobody was a "standout" defensively on an individual basis.

    Also the league was VERY different then. We were 3'rd (IIRC) in the league in pts allowed per game with an average in the 80's. (85.6) That would easily lead the league nowadays. As a comparison, we are currently 3rd in pts allowed at 90.5 ppg. So I think that's a feather in the cap of the current team.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    2004 team had two major defensive issues, Tinsley and Reggie. Tinsley could get steals but he also was lazy on D a lot, and Reggie was just not the athlete to do it.

    Assuming both teams are healthy, it's tough for me to not say that Hill, George, Granger, West, Hibbert is better than Tinsley, Reggie, Artest, JO, Foster on defense. The big difference between those two teams right now is that the 2004 team was pretty good offensively and it rarely gets discussed in that way.

    I think Hill is a good defender, not great, but even having a good defender at your point of attack is a huge, huge thing.
    Last edited by Trader Joe; 12-20-2012 at 11:18 AM.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    Great question and maybe too early to tell, but I agree perimeter wise it is the best. McKey was lockdown for the early/mid 90s teams, but your other perimeter defenders were Mark Jackson, Reggie, Jalen, Travis Best. That group wasn't awful, but at best each had a weakness. Early 2000s teams had Artest, but an aging Reggie and Tinsley, obvious holes there.

    George Hill is maybe the best Pacers defensive Point Guard in the modern era, thats not to say he's Gary Payton, but he basically can effectively guard a variety of sized/skilled starting Point Guards every night. He ranges from an advantage match up to able to hold his own, every night. Thats a big win with the long line of journeyman Points who've been here.

    PG is All NBA defensive team caliber so far this year, imo, what he did to Deng on both sides of the court a few games back was pretty remarkable. He's showing his ability to guard his man and be disruptive as well as erase other mistakes. His stats don't come close to showing what he does for the team concept.

    Lance holds his own as a starter (more later), Sam Young is a plus defender off the bench, never a detriment. Roy can dominate games defensively is spurts and in crunch time he's been as good as you can get. DWest isn't a crazy highlight type defender, but what he does do is set the tone physically. Only once have I seen them out muscled and it was the first Milwaukee game, which I'm guessing Skiles showed them last years physical domination/almost fight with Larry Sanders running backwards on a loop as preparation. Don't discount that fear factor DWest brings, teams don't mess with him and/or the team like they used to in the Murphleavy soft days. So, he'll never block shots, draw charges, have big steal numbers, but he will cave in someones chest setting up position routinely that makes the other team realize its not a fun little run and gun pick up game. Mahinmi gives you a legit center sized defender on those nights you play against true Center size.

    As a team, they are tied together to steal Vogel's verbiage. It takes trust to leave your guy to cover as a team, knowing a teammate has your back. They hold each other accountable too, without infighting/pouting. Watch closely, you'll see them get after each other when they give up an easy bucket. Just fun to watch. That is one of the main reasons you can't bring in a Nate Robinson or someone who's too ego-soft to sacrifice for the team and/or take criticizm from teammates when he misses an assignment.

    So I guess yes, I do see this as a throwback team in that they are starting to show spurts where teams can't score on them, I mean 2 single digit quarters, thats a pretty big deal. If they get to that under 5 mins lock down level, it won't even be a question anymore they are the best ever, imo.

    Guys who hurt you are Green, not that he can't, he isn't quick mentally, defensively. Back up Point Guard, I mean, just no one on the roster who's a plus defender at that spot. Tyler is okay, still misses rotations, never be a shot blocker, good physical prescence and general annoyance that teams hate to play against.

    When Danny comes back, he needs to be as mentally sharp as this group is now or be held accountable. He has lapses and always has and its all mental. He can't have that anymore. Hopefully watching from the bench has helped him clean this up, but he can't be the weak link. Lance doesn't get near enough credit for how solid he's been with this group, hopefully Danny can keep the train rolling.

    Side Note: I wonder if they'll pick up a defensive back up point guard at some point, it would be great if 2012/13 Haywoode Workman was around somewhere. I wonder if when Danny comes back if they move Lance to back up Point Guard, play Sam Young at back up 2, Green at back up 3. I'd hate to see any of those 3 guys not get time when the alternative is an okay to bad defensive Point guard in their place.

    Sorry for the length, just started typing, but I love good defense.
    Last edited by Speed; 12-20-2012 at 11:21 AM.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    Another big plus to the defense this year, the respect Roy is getting from refs. He is really allowed to play, especially late in game. As long as he makes a good effort to get his arms up they are giving him the benefit of the doubt more than the offensive player. Paul is also getting respect from the refs defensively. This is something that Artest and JO never really got in 2004, for obvious reasons, especially in respect to Ron.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    Quote Originally Posted by Trader Joe View Post
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    2004 team had two major defensive issues, Tinsley and Reggie. Tinsley could get steals but he also was lazy on D a lot, and Reggie was just not the athlete to do it.

    Assuming both teams are healthy, it's tough for me to not say that Hill, George, Granger, West, Hibbert is better than Tinsley, Reggie, Artest, JO, Foster on defense. The big difference between those two teams right now is that the 2004 team was pretty good offensively and it rarely gets discussed in that way.

    I think Hill is a good defender, not great, but even having a good defender at your point of attack is a huge, huge thing.
    Hill is a step slow for the point, but his length helps him out here. He struggles with shifty guys with that in-between game (Jennings, Parker, Lillard) but holds his own against others. I thought he played pretty good defense against Lawson, Westbrook, and Irving.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    Quote Originally Posted by Speed View Post
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    Side Note: I wonder if they'll pick up a defensive back up point guard at some point, it would be great if 2012/13 Haywoode Workman was around somewhere. I wonder if when Danny comes back if they move Lance to back up Point Guard, play Sam Young at back up 2, Green at back up 3. I'd hate to see any of those 3 guys not get time when the alternative is an okay to bad defensive Point guard in their place.

    Sorry for the length, just started typing, but I love good defense.
    I hate the thought of Lance as the backup pg, we need someone who can actually initiate the offense as our backup pg, We have good d but we are loosing games because we can also go long stretches without scoring. I think Ben has actually done a pretty decent job as the backup pg but I would much rather see a Real pass first pg and move Hill to the 2 or make him the backup pg again.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    The 2004 team I say was by far the best defensive team the Pacers ever assembled. The defensive rating of that team was the best in all of the Pacers NBA season. Having the DPOY in Artest and with JO and Foster guarding the paint, they just dominated the competition through defense. Best defensive front line yet.

    The current team, if they continue with what they are doing right now, can be better than the 2004 team as the current starting 5 including Granger is the best Pacers team in terms of length and height. They may not be as physical as the 2004 team but their length really provide the advantage of bothering shots, and West is the only one who looks short in terms of his position (he's bulky though so he makes up for it).

    As weird as it is, in the past years we are always bothered by their lack of defense. You may never imagined before that we'll be talking right now about this team as compared to the 90's team or to the 2004 team in terms of defense.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    Tough and fun question. Looking down the line as it currently stands:

    Hill vs. Tinsley
    Stephenson vs. Reggie
    George vs. Artest
    West vs. O'Neal
    Hibbert vs. Foster
    Bench vs. Bench

    That's a tough call! I think both teams have/had two players playing All Defensive Team defense. It's hard to beat Artest's defense that season but Hibbert is probably better than the '04 O'Neal ('06-'07 O'Neal might be a different story). Hill is definitely better than Tinsley, but who's better between Stephenson and end of career Reggie? Foster is definitely better than West, but West is much improved this season. Mahinmi, Young and Tyler vs. Harrington, Fred Jones and Anthony Johnson.

    I really don't know. I'm glad that this debate can be had.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    I think PG is ahead of Artest's defensive path thus far. Artest was 25 in '04; PG is 22. He's damn close to Artest in individual defense right now as Artest was in his peak. The one thing PG still might trail him is in off-the-ball team defense. But PG is a ridiculous defender. He's longer and more athletic than Artest.

    Hibbert is defending the rim like a beast.

    Hill is easily a better defender than Tinsley.

    Foster really D'd it up, and the combination of Foster and O'Neal is probly stronger than Hibbert and West.

    I'd say this team is at least equal to the '04 team, and I think by the end of the year, their playoff defense is going to be ridiculous.
    Last edited by Kid Minneapolis; 12-20-2012 at 12:34 PM.
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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    If you can hold teams to 90 points a game in this era of the NBA, you are a title contender.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    For me the 2004 was better because they could get stops against any team and usually against virtually any player in the league when they needed. The current team isn't at that level against individual players, at least not yet.

    George is very athletic and long and that lends very well to his great defensive play. But Artest was so strong and anticipated so well. Artest was one of the best defenders to ever play the game and could equally defend 3 positions on the floor. He could also defend all but the faster PGs and some centers as well. Where Artest separated himself from almost any other player to ever play the game was his constantly punishing, physical, in-your-face off-the-ball defense that he played.

    And I believe that no matter how much George improves, his off-the-ball defense will never be played to the same level as Artest's. Such defense is not based in learning some set of skills. It is a mindset. Only a handful of players ever have it.

    That is not to say that George will not learn to play some form of defense that is nearly as successful off the ball as Artest's. It would not be of great surprise to me if he did. But George's defense will never be so physically punishing that it interrupts the total game of his opponent such that it just zaps his energy to the extent that he plays fewer minutes and contributes much less to his team on both ends of he floor.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    Quote Originally Posted by Foul on Smits View Post
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    If you can hold teams to 90 points a game in this era of the NBA, you are a title contender.
    Not if you can't broach an average of 89 points of offense per game.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    If I had to shut down a team from scoring, I would probably take the 2004 team. Recall that it was truly an elite team. Artest, JO and SJax were all very good, tough and mobile defenders. JO was a fantastic help defender and quick as a cat when he was younger. Artest was a better defender than anyone we have right now. Guys like Mello and LeBron overpower us...and they wouldn't with Artest. DWest, otoh, is not that good of a defender. George Hill is ok, but overrated coming in. Danny actually isn't that good defensively although he did get better last year. Paul George and Hibbert are both very good defenders but Hibbert can get physically dominated and taken out of the game by certain players.

    Edit: oh...and Reggie Miller improved quite a bit in his later years. Tinsley was the weak link, but even he wasn't terrible. He could steal you blind.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    Quote Originally Posted by Kid Minneapolis View Post
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    I think PG is ahead of Artest's defensive path thus far.
    Whew, I'm not sure about that. Possibly, but (taking the crazy stuff out of the equation) Artest was a beast on the defensive end of the floor. Paul is darn good though, so there's not that big a gap between them, but I think Ron-Ron would just edge PG at their defensive peak. Then again, Paul is not at his peak yet, so I'm fully aware there is room to eat these words.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    How is our pick and roll defense this year compared to last year?

    We have the same starters....once Granger comes back. Has the team made adjustments in terms of what they are doing?
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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueNGold View Post
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    If I had to shut down a team from scoring, I would probably take the 2004 team. Recall that it was truly an elite team. Artest, JO and SJax were all very good, tough and mobile defenders.
    Sjax wasn't on the 04 team that won 61 games and went to the Conference Finals. We still had Harrington that year. The next year we added SJax and the brawl happened. The JO-Artest-Sjax trio played a tiny amount of games together since Artest was suspended for most of 04-05 and asked for a trade early in 05-06.

    I agree that 04 was the best defensive team. Artest being sane for the entire season and playing at such a high level is what made us an elite team.
    Last edited by Sollozzo; 12-20-2012 at 10:58 PM.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    Quote Originally Posted by Kid Minneapolis View Post
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    I think PG is ahead of Artest's defensive path thus far. Artest was 25 in '04; PG is 22. He's damn close to Artest in individual defense right now as Artest was in his peak. The one thing PG still might trail him is in off-the-ball team defense. But PG is a ridiculous defender. He's longer and more athletic than Artest.
    I agree with you that PG might be ahead of Artest in terms of his progression to becoming a defensive star, but I would say that PG's off the ball defense is where George is better than where Artest was and ever was. It is his on the ball defense that must get better before I would be comfortable saying he is better than Artest. Artest in his prime was on of the best on the ball defenders I have ever seen. PG is way above average, but not at the level Artest was. PG's lack of strength is the only thing holding him back. PG gets his hands on so many balls every game it is insane. Help blocks, assisted steals. He literally can shut down a team's two man game by himself. He wants to do it too. Artest shut down his man, not the play. He does get himself in trouble trying to do too much, and I am willing to admit that Artest had a higher IQ than Paul does when pertaining to team defense, though not much higher. Experience will get PG there. He has more length, athleticism, intelligence and desire than Artest did. I really hope the Pacers can lock this dude up for years to come, for he is the catalyst to what makes the Pacers such a good defensive team.....Well that and a 7'2" blocking machine guarding the rim.....and, uh, a solid defender at the point.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck View Post
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    Roy is our best combination of shotblocker and basket protector we have had.
    I guess it depends on what a basket protector is, if you're just wanting someone to clog the paint and alter shots by sheer presence, yes. However, I think JO is right there in terms of shotblocking.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    Quote Originally Posted by Noodle View Post
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    I agree with you that PG might be ahead of Artest in terms of his progression to becoming a defensive star, but I would say that PG's off the ball defense is where George is better than where Artest was and ever was. It is his on the ball defense that must get better before I would be comfortable saying he is better than Artest. Artest in his prime was on of the best on the ball defenders I have ever seen. PG is way above average, but not at the level Artest was. PG's lack of strength is the only thing holding him back. PG gets his hands on so many balls every game it is insane. Help blocks, assisted steals. He literally can shut down a team's two man game by himself. He wants to do it too. Artest shut down his man, not the play. He does get himself in trouble trying to do too much, and I am willing to admit that Artest had a higher IQ than Paul does when pertaining to team defense, though not much higher. Experience will get PG there. He has more length, athleticism, intelligence and desire than Artest did. I really hope the Pacers can lock this dude up for years to come, for he is the catalyst to what makes the Pacers such a good defensive team.....Well that and a 7'2" blocking machine guarding the rim.....and, uh, a solid defender at the point.
    I don't remember how well Artest did running around screens, but Artest was (and is) great at getting in position to deny the ball. George still gets lost around screens, though he is MUCH better this year than last year so far.

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    Is this the Pacers worst offensive team?

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    Default Re: Is this the Pacers best defensive team ever

    1994.

    That team played some of the best playoff defense I have ever seen and they did it with a physicality & toughness. The ECF game at MSA where they held the Knicks to 68 was a clinic. They also just man handled and intimidated an under appreciated 57-win Hawks team for an entire series.

    Very good bench defenders too with Scott, AD, Vern, Lasalle Thompson.

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