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Thread: Insider request: is Indiana's defense the best ever?

  1. #1
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    Default Insider request: is Indiana's defense the best ever?

    Please and thank you!

    http://m.espn.go.com/nba/story?storyId=10067288


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    Redemption. docpaul's Avatar
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    Default Re: Insider request: is Indiana's defense the best ever?

    While someone gets it online, the Cliff Notes version of Pelton's article: per the numbers so far this year... yes, they are the best defense of all time.

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    Default Re: Insider request: is Indiana's defense the best ever?

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story...er-nba-history

    When it comes to defense, the Indiana Pacers have been outliers this season. Plotting the NBA's defensive ratings so far requires stretching the axis to include the Pacers, who have allowed just 93.5 points per 100 possessions in a league in which the average team allows 105.9.

    Only one other team, the San Antonio Spurs (98.8), allows opponents less than a point per possession, and the difference between Indiana and the third-place Chicago Bulls (100.9) is larger than the gap between the Bulls and the team ranked 23rd (New Orleans Pelicans, 108.1).

    As early as it is, such dominance requires us to consider whether the 16-1 Pacers might have the best defense in NBA history -- and how they've gotten here.

    Better than the best

    Of course, Indiana already was the league's best defensive team last season, allowing 100.7 points per 100 possessions. And the Pacers' prowess was on full display in the playoffs, as they shut down the league's No. 3 offense (the New York Knicks) and held the No. 1 offense (the Miami Heat) in check during the Eastern Conference finals. As the Memphis Grizzlies can attest, however, elite defense doesn't necessarily carry over season to season. But somehow, the Pacers have gotten better.


    It all starts in the middle, where Roy Hibbert has built on last season's impressive postseason run to emerge as the league's premier individual defender. Hibbert has improved his block rate from 6.7 percent of opponents' 2-point attempts last season to 9.2 percent this season, while simultaneously cutting his foul rate, a development that began in the 2013 playoffs as referees began giving Hibbert the benefit of the doubt when he contested shots while remaining vertical. The result has been the league's second-best rate of blocks per foul (1.2), trailing the Spurs' Tim Duncan (1.33).

    In addition to putting opponents on the free throw line less frequently because of Hibbert's ability to defend without fouling, Indiana is forcing more turnovers. The Pacers, who ranked just 26th in the league in opponent turnover percentage last season, have jumped into the league's top 10 in 2013-14. According to NBAWowy.com, the Pacers have drawn a league-high 52 offensive fouls through Friday.

    Indiana has improved elsewhere without sacrificing its ability to defend shots. Opponents have barely made 40 percent of their 2-point attempts against the Pacers, far and away the league's lowest mark. Remarkably, just 11 players in the league with at least 100 2-point attempts have shot as poorly this season as the average Indiana opponent.

    Tested by the West

    Skeptics will note that the Pacers have benefited from a weak November schedule. Of the NBA's top 12 offenses on a per-possession basis, 11 reside in the Western Conference. Indiana has faced just three of them. The average Pacers opponent ranks 23rd in the NBA in offensive rating.

    Accounting for that easy slate takes a little air out of Indiana's impressive start. The Pacers have allowed 12.1 percent fewer points per 100 possessions than league average but are holding their opponents just 9.0 percent below their typical performance. Nonetheless, that mark will still be the best in post-merger NBA history if Indiana can maintain it all season:


    The schedule will soon even out. Indiana's win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday was the start of a five-game trip that features matchups against four of the West's top five teams. That includes a visit Monday night to the fast-starting 14-3 Portland Trail Blazers. Then, after the Pacers return home, the two-time defending champion Miami Heat pay a visit a week from Tuesday. At the conclusion of this stretch, we'll have a lot better idea of whether Indiana's defense is historically great -- and whether the Pacers can hang on to the top spot in the East all season.

    The sincerest form of flattery

    It's impossible to separate Indiana's success defensively from its personnel. Hibbert is the early favorite for Defensive Player of the Year, and budding superstar Paul George might join him on the All-Defensive First Team. George Hill and Lance Stephenson also are effective on the perimeter, and David West's versatility enables him to match up with both traditional big men and stretch 4s.

    But coach Frank Vogel has found a scheme that takes full advantage of their skills -- in particular Hibbert's ability to contest shots in the paint -- so the Pacers are able to minimize high-efficiency looks inside and beyond the arc. While conceding that the defense wouldn't be as effective without Hibbert, Vogel recently told reporters he would consider a similar philosophy with different personnel.

    "I think this is how you have to build a defense with players like this," he said. "If you don't have size, there's other things you could do that might make more sense."

    Vogel's peers might be starting to come to the same conclusion. Elements of Indiana's defensive scheme have begun to trickle throughout the league -- most notably in Portland. The Pacers will recognize how Blazers coach Terry Stotts is having his big men sink to the paint against pick-and-rolls while perimeter defenders stay at home on shooters.

    Portland, which ranked 26th defensively last season, hasn't seen anywhere near the same results. Still, the new scheme -- anchored by 7-footer Robin Lopez, acquired in a summer trade -- has helped the Blazers improve from 26th to 10th in opponents' effective field goal percentage. Portland actually has outdone Indiana by allowing opponents to attempt 3-pointers on barely 20 percent of their shot attempts, the league's second-lowest mark. (The Pacers rank third, with the Boston Celtics No. 1.)

    In a league that emphasizes efficient shot selection on offense, smart coaches are trying to take those high-value attempts (corner 3-pointers and shots around the rim) away from opponents. And nobody has done a better job of that -- now and maybe ever -- than this season's Indiana Pacers.

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    Member HickeyS2000's Avatar
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    Default Re: Insider request: is Indiana's defense the best ever?

    "Remarkably, just 11 players in the league with at least 100 2-point attempts have shot as poorly this season as the average Indiana opponent."


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    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Insider request: is Indiana's defense the best ever?

    Best Pacers defense ever? yes. and considering 1994 and 2004 that is saying a lot.

    Best NBA defense ever? Way, way too soon to make such a claim.

    best NBA defense I have ever seen was the 2004 Pistons after they acquired Sheed

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    Default Re: Insider request: is Indiana's defense the best ever?

    When you couple it with what we saw from game 20 or so last year on, and then the first 17 games this year, I don't think it's too early to say it's in the conversation

    “WE NEVER SURRENDER, WE NEVER GIVE UP, WE KEEP ATTACKING”- Frank Vogel
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    Default Re: Insider request: is Indiana's defense the best ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck View Post
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    Best Pacers defense ever? yes. and considering 1994 and 2004 that is saying a lot.

    Best NBA defense ever? Way, way too soon to make such a claim.

    best NBA defense I have ever seen was the 2004 Pistons after they acquired Sheed
    Per Pelton's article, the 2004 Pistons team was actually the 6th best all time. This is using a metric of how much below a team's typical performance (as a percentage) does an opponent defense hold them to. He actually shows how San Antonio had a better defense that same year with those criteria.

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    DIET COKE! Trader Joe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Insider request: is Indiana's defense the best ever?

    It is very hard to maintain defense of this level from year to year, even SAS has had years where they rely more on offense to get done. Memphis was having a huge drop off defensively even before Marc Gasol got hurt. A big point of pride for this should have to go to Frank. Coaches are so important to defense, obviously you have to have the personnel to play a certain way, but Frank has maximized this team's talent from day 1.

    “WE NEVER SURRENDER, WE NEVER GIVE UP, WE KEEP ATTACKING”- Frank Vogel
    momentarygodsblog.com https://twitter.com/momentarygods

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    Default Re: Insider request: is Indiana's defense the best ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trader Joe View Post
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    Coaches are so important to defense
    So true, as long as you have players willing to play defense you can play good defense, even if you aren't especially long or athletic. The most important person in convincing a player to want to play defense is the coach.

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    It is ka Thankee sai Major Cold's Avatar
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    Default Re: Insider request: is Indiana's defense the best ever?

    That is why I hope Lionel Hollins is picked up by a West Coast team. He emphasizes defense, and some how got the Grizzlies to the WCF without much three pointers. The Pistons offered him an assistant job but he turned them down. They should have offered him the head coaching job.

  16. #11
    George Hill Apologist mattie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Insider request: is Indiana's defense the best ever?

    Thanks ESPN Insider! RUDE!
    Find me on the internets @mattiecolin

    Read it and weep:

    When George Hill is above 15% usage we won 73.5% of games. Below 15% usage we won 61.9%

  17. #12

    Default Re: Insider request: is Indiana's defense the best ever?

    Clearly not now that we're playing teams that don't suck.

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