So why is it so painful to watch?
Zach Lowe reported on the amazing offensive numbers the Pacers are putting up against the Heat defense. But while the numbers may look good on paper, the offense hasn't looked particularly good in person. Painful and frustrating are two words that come to me before impressive when considering the Pacers offense in their Game 4 win over the Heat. Still, as Lowe mentions, something is working for the Pacers.
Not even Frank Vogel could have seen this coming, though his adjustments game-to-game have had a lot to do with Indiana's shocking decimation of Miami's coordinated chaos on defense. So have the following things: Indiana shooting 37 percent from 3-point range; Indiana getting to the line at a bonkers rate; Ray Allen's inability to guard anyone other than, bizarrely, Paul George; and the Pacers rebounding 39.9 percent of their own misses, an offensive rebounding rate that would be the highest in the history of the league if any team actually pulled it off for an entire season. The Pacers couldn't do that, of course. This is just a four-game sample size, but the comparison with season-long marks, while not useful in any deep way, indicates how badly the Pacers are dominating the glass.
That ridiculous rebound rate and all of those free throws are where the Pacers are making hay, which helps bail out bad offensive possessions. How many possessions go deep into the shot clock, by design in most cases, and leave the Pacers scrambling to get a shot up? It almost seems like the plan is to simply free a player with the ball to get the ball to the rim so the other players can crash the glass.
Roy Hibbert and David West can have their way in the post, so naturally it is frustrating when the Pacers just don't force feed Hibbert or West in the post to continue dominating in the paint. I realize it isn't that easy and Hibbert is doing a great job of getting deep post position. Getting the ball to him is easier said than done on some possessions.
But I refuse to believe there isn't plenty of room for improvement from the Pacers on offense. The Pacers had 13 turnovers, which is considered a good night. But the fundamental post-entry passes that go awry, or Paul George just lobbing a pass right to LeBron James on an out of bounds play are wasted opportunities.
Lance Stephenson makes the Pacers better in attack mode, but his decisions don't always add up. Again, wasted opportunities we've learned to live with for the big plays Stephenson can makes with the aggressive mind set. Still, there's room for the young guard to tighten up his game and help the Pacers on offense.
Finally, Paul George struggled in Game 4 and his foul trouble was a big part. Fatigue? Yes, he's gone through the Josh Smith, Carmelo Anthony and now LeBron James gauntlet, but foul trouble is more of a problem than being tired. It seems like George was frustrated and anxious with the ball in Game 4, desperate to make a play but trying to do things out of his comfort zone which led to botched possessions. PG's offensive game isn't at a place where he can pick his spots and create on his own. He has to let the game come to him and work within a system to find scoring opportunities. Just stop forcing the issue against the active and athletic Heat defense.
So, yeah, the Pacers are getting buckets and believe me, I don't care how they are doing it. But I also can't help but think the Pacers can improve their level of play against the Heat, which they will need to do as the series goes to another level of intensity in Game 5 on Thursday night in Miami.