It’s admittedly nice to see the Indiana Pacers find their way into the national spotlight again. Even though all of it comes due to the Heat losing, every so often, the Pacers get name dropped in these discussions…despite most of it starting and ending with "How could you lose to the Indiana Pacers!?" Alas, it’d be foolish to think it was the Heat all on their lonesome.
Okay, so some of it was, they did play poorly last night. But it takes execution to win any game, and execution is something the Pacers did quite well last night. In fact, SB Nation’s Mike Prada gives us a glimpse of some of that execution, even if the focus lies on what the Heat weren’t doing. On the offensive possession being highlighted, T.J. Ford was able to recognize communication issues on the Miami defense, helped further by offensive movement that led to Ford finding James Posey for one of the biggest three pointers of the night.
And even though the offense wasn’t flowing wide open as they did against the Nuggets and Clippers, it was smart, well designed offensive schemes and execution with plenty of movement away from the ball that helped the Pacers make the plays down the stretch to close this one out, something they hadn’t been terribly adapt to in the past, or even at points this year.
Meanwhile, John Schuhmann over at NBA.com is blazing a trail that hopefully leads somewhere special; not a circle that takes us back to our camp site by covering a forgotten angle of this game: the Pacers were the ones who actually beat Miami. Schuhmann gives praise to the statistical advantages of Indiana that despite being 6-6 are in fact in the top half of the NBA regards to point differential and defense.
Oh there’s the defense again. Going back to Prada’s screencap festival of proof-the-Pacers-know-what-they’re-doing, Indiana showed a solid adherence to the defensive gameplan: let the Heat beat you from deep. The players are all in position defensively in this play to clog the interior and force LeBron James to make a play. He opts to put up the shot himself, the miss is corralled by Indiana, and the defense is successful.
What the Pacers are doing isn’t exotic. The Pacers don’t have to be exotic to be effective. Last night, Jim O’Brien drew up a winning game plan, and Indiana stuck to it and pulled out a win. You can attribute as much of the loss to Miami blowing it all you want, but the Pacers had to take advantage on the other side. I don’t remember how long it took before Oklahoma City gained respect last year, but I’d like this to be another stepping stone in that path, one that requires a win against Cleveland for some sort of validation…or a start to validation anyway.