"I don't think I'm ever going to be a numbers guys," Josh McRoberts said when asked about his impact on the Indiana Pacers win over the Boston Celtics last night. "If you just look at stat lines, you're probably not going to be too impressed with me."
True enough. Scoring 6 points with 3 assists, 4 rebounds and a steal in over 27 minutes appears without context to be a minimal contribution to a big win for the Pacers.
However, if you actually watched the game last night, you'd note that the +24 number, for the team's positive production with McRoberts on the court last night, was not some fluke. McRoberts facilitated the offensive flow for the Pacers, keeping the Celtics' stingy defense honest which helped create openings for his teammates to score.
"Guys knocked down some shots tonight that were open. The way Boston plays, they're so tough, hedging on screens, up in the point guards and wings, just playing great defense."
Two weeks ago, the Pacers struggled to find any open looks against the C's in Boston, let alone knock down the shots. Tyler Hansbrough went into that game on a hot streak, but the Celtics were able to keep Hansbrough out of his pick n' pop comfort zone which in turn bogged down the rest of the offense. McRoberts and the Pacers learned from their struggles in Boston and took advantage of the play-making ability McRoberts brings to the table to show the Celtics something different out of the pick n' roll.
"Forcing a rotation out of that pick n' roll where I have the ball and try to create with it, then they have to rotate helps," McRoberts explained. "We could see how we needed to attack their defense (after the loss in Boston), I mean they play great defense. Trying to make a quick pass out of the pick n' roll to try to attack and make them rotate is what you want and that's an adjustment we made from the last game."
McRoberts even kept the defense honest by taking the ball to the hole in the fourth quarter when Boston had everything else covered up. Winning the little things always adds up for the Pacers. For instance, Paul George had a tough night, but did manage two hustle plays to keep two separate possessions alive for the Pacers. Both of those possessions ended in three-point plays.
When you get big nights from Roy Hibbert, Darren Collison and A.J. Price, you don't want those little things to tip the game the other way. Last night everything tipped in favor of the Pacers and McRoberts played a big part in making it happen even if you can't tell from the box score.