With some conversation popping up about how the Pacers are going to handle the matchups for this series, I was wondering what the best possible defensive assignments could be. We've seen a mixed bag throughout the regular season, and it's going to be different than last year since we don't have DG. So the question becomes, will the Pacers be conventional, and stick PG on LBJ, and Stephenson on Wade, with West on Bosh? Will they play straight up like they did against NY? Will they trap/double LeBron?
Here's my idea:
I think for game 1, the Pacers ought to try (operative word is TRY) playing the following matchups straight up:
Paul George-Chris Bosh
George Hill-Mario Chalmers
No, I have not been day-drinking (yet).
I think Bosh is actually the Heat's most dangerous weapon if he's given space to shoot. We have to face two facts in this series. First, it doesn't matter who guards LeBron, he's going to penetrate and create for himself and others and second, West can't guard Bosh. It's nice to try to bait a cross matchup where Bosh gets stuck on Hibbert from time to time after Hibbert guards him, but he's too slow to guard Bosh as well. PG, on the other hand, can completely neutralize Bosh, while Lance does the same to Wade (well...not completely...but if he's injured, really hinder him) and we can dare LBJ to shoot over a sagging David West (or...shudder...Tyler Hansbrough as the case may be...though we've seen LBJ salivate when faced with driving on Tyler). Meanwhile, having Hibbert guarding Haslem should allow him to camp out near the rim, right where we need him.
Yes, I realize leaving the world's best player 5 feet of free space is a risky proposition. But ask yourself, would you rather the Pacers' best player (George) chase him around for 35+ minutes per game, thus wearing himself down/beating himself up in the process, or would you rather LBJ just shoots jumpers over a defender who's backed off so far from him that he won't be able to easily drive around him? I mean, he's going to score anyway. Why not make it harder to get Bosh involved and, consequently, limit LBJ's free throw attempts?
Yes, I realize Bosh is technically a PF (or even C) with some degree of post skill, but he's not bigger than the 6'10 George, or if he is, it's not by much and Bosh isn't bodying him around the paint. The last thing we want to see is Bosh hitting open 15-20 footers (or even threes) b/c we let him roam free.
The other option is PG on LBJ, Stephenson on Wade, and hide West on Chalmers, with Hibbert on Bosh and Hill on Haslem. But again, I think that creates a couple mismatches (though no, I'm not afraid of Haslem posting up Hill, but I am afraid of Bosh abusing Hibbert with the jumper and intermediate game) that the other option avoids.