All is not well in Pacer Nation and media and fans alike are not happy. What to do after the Saturday night debacle against the Hawks? Even a glass half full guy like me is discouraged after what took place Saturday night. How can a team go from 33-7 to this without a major injury? Is is really Granger? I am a Granger guy but ...wow!
This has been a complete team collapse. Paul George may have had good stats against the Hawks but he forced shots and at times played selfishly. They don’t trust each other and try to do things individually. I don’t know where the team chip on their shoulder went to but they need to turn the radio and TV back on. Hey Pacers, ESPN never liked you, they do not respect you and their collection of talking heads (especially Greenberg and Kornheiser) would rather have the Taliban All-Stars in the NBA finals then the Indiana Pacers. The only thing they hate more than the Indiana Pacers is anything from Canada, including hockey, the Raptors, Blue Jays, Moosehead beer or Bieber. (On another rant, as I watch Washington take down the Bulls it is ridiculous how little love Randy WIttman got from ESPN for Coach of the Year)
For sure Roy has not done much for most of the last month or so. I have looked over the early part of the Pacers season and I would rather Roy get 10 rebounds and two or more blocks than 21 points and four rebounds like he did in the last win over the Heat. His recent stretch of 3 or so rebounds per game bothers me much more than when he misses shots. When he gets 10 plus rebounds and 3 blocks the Pacers usually win. Against the Hawks on Saturday he got 8 rebounds and he at least fought to get his hands on the ball. With all due respect to Candice Buckner, he showed more life then he has shown in a while. He is not very coordinated so sometimes he isn’t going to look pretty on offense and I don't care if Korver blocked his shot. You think they were going to win if that didn't happen? He is an awkward big dude. He can’t shoot like Rik Smits so don’t expect that. The Pacers are also not very patient at feeding the post and often their poor, no make that horrific spacing makes it impossible to get the ball inside. He certainly isn’t faultless and often looks helpless but he isn’t getting much help from his teammates either.
The Hawks are doubling down on the ball and if you move the ball quickly you can burn that defense. They know the Pacers are a poor passing team and they know that Paul George will eventually start jacking up difficult to comical shots.
Atlanta has played well and won seven of its last ten games going into the playoffs. As Reggie Wayne has said several times: "They on scholarship too." The Hawks have created a lot of the Pacers problems by playing an unusual offense for the NBA. They often start out with everyone above the three point arc and pick for Teague. Then if you help he drives and kicks out to an open shooter. If you don’t help he goes to the basket. This isn’t all on Hill. They set a lot of high pick and roll action and at times the Pacers have had trouble guarding that all year. It is asking a lot for Hibbert or any of the Pacers big men to guard these guys 25 foot from the basket and the Atlanta bigs have made enough shots from out there you have to stay close to them. The Hawks have spread the floor and executed their offense very well.
So Roy and West can't guard anyone that far out. Do you go small? Maybe but in my version of going small I am trying Lavoy Allen and not Copeland. Either way I am not sure that solves a lot of the problems they are having on screens and dribble penetration. It certainly does not fix the offensive problems.
I would like to try staying big one more time but with a twist. Sometimes you get a team that is hard to match-up with and you have to do something out of the norm to combat that. I would do the one thing I have not heard any of the media experts, pundits and guru’s suggest. Play a ZONE! Yes, is said that dirty four letter word, Z-O-N-E. That keeps Roy under the basket and Lance, PG and Hill are quick and long enough to cover the long skip passes. Syracuse has shown a zone can still be a pressure defense if you have long fast defenders and I thought that is what PG was supposed to be. It takes away the high pick and roll and would disrupt the Hawks offense. I wouldn’t do it every time down but I would show it enough to break up their newly found continuity. If Teague goes to the basket he will be surrounded and if the Pacers are disciplined to stay in their area they could pick off some passes.
I don’t think Vogel will do this and maybe Double D is out there having a stroke but this is the best way I can see to keep Hibbert and West near the basket. It would also take away a lot of the pick and roll the Hawks run. Finally last May Vogel suggested they would practice it next year (or 2013-14) after they lost Game 1 of the 2013 series against the Heat. Frank, PLEASE try a zone!!