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Thread: Indiana's strange success.

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    Default Indiana's strange success.

    @basketballtalk: The Extra Pass: Indiana’s Strange Success http://t.co/6aA8fdEP #PBT #NBA

    AP
    The Extra Pass is a new daily column that’s designed to give you a better look at a theme, team, player or scheme that could use another glance. Today, we swing our attention to Indiana, where the Pacers are putting together one strange season.

    I wish there were a more aesthetically pleasing comparison available, but the Indiana Pacers are the cockroaches of the NBA. They are an ugly team, scattered about on the offensive end, waiting for the shot clock to tick down to the skinnier numbers so they can rush to the rim for scraps. There is very little sex appeal or sophistication here — just resiliency.

    You chop off their head, and they live for 35 games and counting. Last year’s leading scorer Danny Granger hasn’t played a single minute.

    You take away what they’re looking for, and they find something else. 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert is shooting 40 percent from the field and averages less than 10 points a game.

    You eliminate the new addition to their ranks, and they still keep coming. Gerald Green has an 8.2 PER, good for fifth worst in the league of players who average more than 20 minutes a night.

    The Pacers are 29th in offensive efficiency, 28th in field goal percentage and 29th in points per game. They should be finished already, planning their trip to Secaucus, New Jersey to watch lottery balls bounce around with the rest of the inept offensive teams in the league.

    But instead, the Pacers are 21-14, fourth in the Eastern Conference, and just three games back of a Miami Heat team they vanquished last night. Three games out of first place. The Indiana Pacers. With all that going on.

    How?

    The best defense can be a slow offense

    The Pacers have evolved in the best way– they know that they’re terrible offensively without Granger (and with Hibbert missing layups), so they’ve adapted by helping themselves on the other end. The offense, as brutal as it may be, serves a purpose for the defense by playing purposefully slow.

    The Pacers play at the league’s 25th slowest pace, but they also rank 10th in offensive rebounding percentage. The victory over Miami was a wonderful example of how these two things work together. The Pacers absolutely bled the clock with the lead, and combined with their 22 offensive rebounds, they made that 8-10 points feel like 18-20 instead. The opportunities for Miami to come back in the fourth quarter were extremely limited.

    Of course, taking the air out of the ball, so to speak, would mean nothing if the Pacers weren’t defending the way they are. For as every bit as bad as they’ve been offensively, the Pacers have been even better defensively.

    It starts inside

    Hibbert has used his own struggles at the rim as a way to exact revenge on his opponents, blocking the third most shots in the league (2.7 a game) and altering countless others. From 9-feet and in, the Pacers hold their opponents to the league’s lowest shooting percentage.

    Although Hibbert isn’t fleet of foot, he’s a space eater for a defense that rarely gambles (26th in turnover percentage). The Pacers as a whole are very conservative defensively — their guards like to go under screens, and their big men rarely hedge or trap on pick-and-rolls. As a result, the Pacers are rarely scrambling to recover or asking their bigs to make lightning quick rotations.

    And although he’s not noted as a defensive force, David West uses that thick chest of his as the wall to Hibbert’s sentry tower arms — opposing power forwards notch a PER of 12.2 against West, and the Pacers are about 2.4 points better defensively per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor (and a whopping net 13.5 points overall).

    Thanks to West and Hibbert, and the crazy size of Paul George, the Pacers are also the 6th best defensive rebounding team in the league. Opposing teams go one-and-done offensively quite a bit.

    Length on the perimeter

    Another thing the Pacers do extraordinarily well defensively is defend the 3-point line. The average team this year shoots around 35.7 percent from behind the arc, but the Pacers hold their opponents to a stingy 31.6 percent shooting. That’s the top number in the league, and the length of guys like George Hill (who owns a ridiculous 6-foot-9 wingspan), Lance Stephenson (6-foot-10 wingspan) and Paul George (near 7-foot-wingspan) play into that heavily. According to Synergy Sports, the Pacers are the number one defense in the league defending against spot-up jumpers — a testament to the ability of their wings to get a hand up and contest every shot.

    Coach of the Year?

    There’s a reason Frank Vogel just got a contract extension, folks. The Pacers have a lot of plus individual defenders, but no one in their right mind expected them to have the league’s most efficient defense 35 games in. This is a core that has benefitted a great deal from playing together, and give Vogel credit for allowing Indiana’s starting five (Hill-Stephenson-George-West-Hibbert) to play the second most minutes together of any unit in the league — even if Indiana’s bench has been a question mark ever since he grabbed the big seat. If Tom Thibodeau can win a Coach of the Year for the defense he brought to Chicago, Vogel should at least be seriously considered if this keeps up.

    Thank you, David

    And here’s the reason why it might not keep up. Indiana’s Dr. Jekyl defense and Mr. Hyde offense is unlike anything we’ve seen, but a very soft schedule certainly has played into that a bit. Indiana’s strength of schedule is dead last in the league, and their SRS, a rating that factors point differential into that equation, is just 15th. Although more recent wins against Memphis, Milwaukee and Miami are impressive, their wins prior to that came against sub .500 clubs almost exclusively. Some regression should be expected as the quality of opponents spikes back up.

    But even with that said, it’s tough to deny the staying power of the league’s most resilient team to date. Things can’t possibly get worse offensively, especially since Stephenson has made such a positive impact lately. With Granger targeting a February return, there is hope on the horizon.

    It’s not often we see a contender so painfully 0ne-dimensional, but if this defense holds on to the distinction of being the best in the league, the Pacers will be awfully hard to ignore any longer

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    This article implies David Stern did something nice for the Pacers.
    Pacers,baby!

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Defense doesn't have 'off' nights like shooting does. If this team does or doesn't get Danny back they'll improve on that end.

    PG is starting to understand he can get a shot at will.
    G Hill is clutch
    Lance is unafraid
    Roy won't shoot worse
    West is healthy, clutch, and a prescence
    Augustine has shown up
    Green IS a good 3 point shooter
    Tyler gets to the line
    Mahinmi can hit the 17 footer consistently

    Danny coming back is a huge difference maker, but improvement can be had just by familiarity and continuing the road they are on.

    I want the defense to continue when/if Danny comes back, he's the big/strong wing that they are missing.

    It occurred to me last night if you get to face Miami again, if you get Danny back, you can put Danny on Bosh at times in a series. Anyone remember Danny shutting him down, years ago, in the 4th quarter?

    So ya, Defense doesn't have off nights, if given a choice I'd rather be great defensively.

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Only thing I don't like is, yet again, a writer looks only at SOS in terms of opponent win %. No mention of having well over 1/2 the games on the road.

    Oh, and in the last few weeks? Wins @LA, @Chi, vsMia, vsMil, vsMem, vsPhi

    You can't watch this team and call them pyrite. They are clearly getting it together.

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    I agree that the SOS thing is way overrated especially in the NBA where home court is king, but saying we beat Philly at home as a good win is pretty weak. Philly sucks. Makes me chuckle that we had folks on here who were calling them our superior all offseason.

    “WE NEVER SURRENDER, WE NEVER GIVE UP, WE KEEP ATTACKING”- Frank Vogel
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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek2k3 View Post
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    Only thing I don't like is, yet again, a writer looks only at SOS in terms of opponent win %. No mention of having well over 1/2 the games on the road.

    Oh, and in the last few weeks? Wins @LA, @Chi, vsMia, vsMil, vsMem, vsPhi

    You can't watch this team and call them pyrite. They are clearly getting it together.
    agree 100% Plus we played a lot of those sub .500 teams early on the season before this group found their stride. Two Toronto losses anyone?

    We have New York and Brooklyn coming up this week. Beating 1,2, and 5 in the East in one week would be great for this team's confidence.

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trader Joe View Post
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    I agree that the SOS thing is way overrated especially in the NBA where home court is king, but saying we beat Philly at home as a good win is pretty weak. Philly sucks. Makes me chuckle that we had folks on here who were calling them our superior all offseason.
    Eh, I only included them because they are currently 1 game out of the playoffs.

    Shows how crappy the East is...again.

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek2k3 View Post
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    Eh, I only included them because they are currently 1 game out of the playoffs.

    Shows how crappy the East is...again.
    They are 3 games out.

    “WE NEVER SURRENDER, WE NEVER GIVE UP, WE KEEP ATTACKING”- Frank Vogel
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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Weren't some people around here calling for Vogel's head at the start of the season?

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Quote Originally Posted by cdash View Post
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    Weren't some people around here calling for Vogel's head at the start of the season?
    Yup. I was.

    I also was happy with him as a coach last year during the regular season. His inability to adapt to opponents in the playoffs is what turned me against him. If something isn't working and he continues to try and make it work, I will call for his head again. Losing to Miami was expected before that argument sets in - but the way we lost, mostly based on poor rotations was maddening. As long as he is willing to try and fix something when it isn't working, I'm okay with him as coach. Even if we lose. Its the trying to fit the square peg into the round hole that I couldn't stand watching.

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jessen View Post
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    Two Toronto losses anyone?
    One Toronto loss. The other loss was against Charlotte
    Tonight, all flags must burn, in place of steeples.
    Autonomy must return into the hands of the people.

    Panopticon

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    CJ Watson - 20 points on 6/10 shooting!

    13/4/2014

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Pacers are third best team in the East now.
    Even I didn't think we would be this good without Granger.

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nuntius View Post
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    One Toronto loss. The other loss was against Charlotte
    You're right. Lol. I think because we played so badly during that game that I put it down as a L. Silly me.

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jessen View Post
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    You're right. Lol. I think because we played so badly during that game that I put it down as a L. Silly me.
    It really would have been a loss if it wasn't for David West going ham in the 4th.
    Tonight, all flags must burn, in place of steeples.
    Autonomy must return into the hands of the people.

    Panopticon

    -------------

    CJ Watson - 20 points on 6/10 shooting!

    13/4/2014

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Quote Originally Posted by cdash View Post
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    Weren't some people around here calling for Vogel's head at the start of the season?
    This forum is mostly just basketball fans who are a bit more knowledgeable than those on most other forums. We have a few fans that really know what they are talking about and of course the 10 % that always overreact. When 80-85% of the forum start calling for something, then you're on to something. Otherwise it's just another day at the office.

    Edit; Eighty-eighty-five percent of the forum isn't the same as 80-85% of posters. Their are several prolific posters who seem to always run counter to the majority.
    Last edited by Will Galen; 01-10-2013 at 07:55 AM.

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Quote Originally Posted by cdash View Post
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    Weren't some people around here calling for Vogel's head at the start of the season?
    There were some fans who where concerned about the lack of offensive scheme (myself included; it seemed as though a few "ready to panic fans" took those comments to the extreme and demanded the head of a winning coach.

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Although not flattering, the writer's cockroach analogy was pretty clever.
    .

    .

    .

    .


    “People talk about how quiet he [McKey] is, but he’s really been helpful. He gives a lot of insight to players in how to guard certain teams and what their weaknesses are. The whole team listens to him, and it makes my job a lot easier. Having players like him is what pro basketball is all about for me.” —Larry Brown

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    There is a lot of interesting points in the article.

    But I would like to touch on this aspect.

    Hill-Stephenson-George-West-Hibbert play the second most minutes together of any unit in the league. I think that is Frank's goal as a coach - to play the starters as a unit as much as he can without wearing any individual player out.

    But that also means that the bench must play a lot together as a unit as well. I know many in this forum have complained about Frank going with almost a 2 unit approach. (I never put that much thought to that idea good or bad). But now that I see this I think it is an excellent approach. The way Frank does it the starters get needed chemistry. It has worked two straight years
    Last edited by Unclebuck; 01-10-2013 at 12:30 PM.

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Yea, hard to argue with results UB. Like it or not its working. I change my stance on the Hockey subs almost every game, but hey we are thrd in the East for a reason.
    If games are won and lost on a calculator and piece of paper, then why do we bother to play them?

    @LetsTalkPacers

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Quote Originally Posted by McKeyFan View Post
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    Although not flattering, the writer's cockroach analogy was pretty clever.
    ...and fitting, I think.

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Quote Originally Posted by McKeyFan View Post
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    Although not flattering, the writer's cockroach analogy was pretty clever.
    If the goal is to survive the regular season, I'm not sure there's a more resilient creature than the cockroach. As long as it remains a metaphor, it seems pretty flattering to me.

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    THE HIPPOROACHES.

    Or if you prefer

    THE COCKOPOTAMUS.

    “WE NEVER SURRENDER, WE NEVER GIVE UP, WE KEEP ATTACKING”- Frank Vogel
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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck View Post
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    There is a lot of interesting points in the article.

    But I would like to touch on this aspect.

    Hill-Stephenson-George-West-Hibbert play the second most minutes together of any unit in the league. I think that is Frank's goal as a coach - to play the starters as a unit as much as he can without wearing any individual player out.

    But that also means that the bench must play a lot together as a unit as well. I know many in this forum have complained about Frank going with almost a 2 unit approach. (I never put that much thought to that idea good or bad). But now that I see this I think it is an excellent approach. The way Frank does it the starters get needed chemistry. It has worked two straight years
    The hockey subs wouldn't be a bad approach if the bench is playing well. Often though the bench isn't playing well together, and is consistently not playing well together. That is where you get a problem. That kind of approach all depends on your personnel. Very few teams are deep enough to pull that strategy off. I think this team potentially is, especially when Granger comes back, but I am not convinced yet that it can be.

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trader Joe View Post
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    THE HIPPOROACHES.

    Or if you prefer

    THE COCKOPOTAMUS.
    I do prefer.

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    Default Re: Indiana's strange success.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trader Joe View Post
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    I agree that the SOS thing is way overrated especially in the NBA where home court is king, but saying we beat Philly at home as a good win is pretty weak. Philly sucks. Makes me chuckle that we had folks on here who were calling them our superior all offseason.
    But as I recall at the PD party we pretty much unanimously trashed their chances and a lot of us expected a Bynum meltdown. I think Boston was only getting 50/50 love as well.


    I did the true SOS breakdown before where I took ONLY the opponents road or home records as appropriate which showed that beating a bad team on the road isn't as bad as the generic SOS makes it out to be.

    Say you have a 6-8 team at home who is 2-12 on the road. You play at their arena. Are you playing a 8-20 team or a 6-8 team? IMO you are playing a 6-8 team.

    And to be fair beating Miami in Indy is only beating a 7-7 team. Going to Miami and beating them would obviously be much more impressive. It cuts both ways. But the fact is that it's cut hard for Indy to start the year due to the amount of road games.


    Plus another thing I brought up in the schedule thread is that while you might have some easy wins, they still only count as one game. So if you play in Chicago and in Millwaukee and then host Washington twice, you don't expect to be 4-0 just because the 2 Washington games make the SOS lopsided.

    I'm just going to go bump that other thread, which didn't have any replies. Haters.

    I'll do some more analysis to look at the updated expectations.

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