Pacers Must Keep Miami Role Players From Making A Strong Impact


HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Part of the Indiana Pacers’ success in the conference semifinals was keeping New York’s shooters in check. They knew that the Knicks were at their best when they were knocking down threes and, except for a flurry in the third quarter of Game 6, really did not allow themselves to get beat from beyond the arc.

With Paul George defending Carmelo Anthony one-on-one and Roy Hibbert protecting the rim, the Pacers’ other defenders were able to stay at home on the shooters.

That strategy is obviously more difficult when you replace Anthony with LeBron James and then throw Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh into the mix, but the Pacers still want to keep their opponent’s role players under wraps.

We remember James and Wade combining for 70 points in Game 5 of last year’s conference semifinals, but other than that 40-point explosion, the four-time MVP hasn’t had a really big scoring game against the Pacers over the last two years. Wade, we know, is banged up and looks only able to score in bursts here or there.

Consider the three games the Heat and Pacers played this season. James, Wade and Bosh had similar production in all three contests: 66 points on Jan. 8, 58 on Feb. 1, and 60 on March 10. And it was when their teammates came through with another 45 points that the Heat got their only win of the season series.

Heat offense vs. Indiana

Bosh, James & Wade 24 46 52.2% 5 7 71.4% 13 18 66 57.6%
Others 4 22 18.2% 3 12 25.0% 0 0 11 25.0%
Total 28 68 41.2% 8 19 42.1% 13 18 77 47.1%
Bosh, James & Wade 21 44 47.7% 1 3 33.3% 15 21 58 48.9%
Others 12 26 46.2% 4 11 36.4% 3 3 31 53.8%
Total 33 70 47.1% 5 14 35.7% 18 24 89 50.7%
Bosh, James & Wade 25 41 61.0% 1 3 33.3% 9 13 60 62.2%
Others 13 27 48.1% 6 11 54.5% 13 18 45 59.3%
Total 38 68 55.9% 7 14 50.0% 22 31 105 61.0%

Now, poor defense had a lot to do with the Feb. 1 loss, and Bosh’s nine field goals from outside the paint had a lot to do with the March 10 win. But with the way the Pacers defend and with the way the Heat is set up to succeed, it makes sense that Miami is most dangerous when the “others” are making shots.

Looking beyond the three games against Indiana, the Heat are 43-3 when players other than James, Wade and Bosh scored at least 37 points. Now, there’s a garbage-time factor there, but they’re also 33-2 when Mario Chalmers has scored nine points or more and 29-2 when Shane Battier has scored eight points or more. Neither of those guys plays a lot of garbage-time minutes. Chalmers scored 26 points in the win over the Pacers.

Oh yeah, the Heat are 31-0 when they hit at least 10 threes.

Erik Spoelstra has been saying for a while now that he wants his shooters “hunting down shots.” Not only is three greater than two, but threats from the outside help open things up for James and Wade in the paint.

As was the case against New York, the Pacers don’t want to give shooters much space. They can do that for the most part in the Heat’s half-court offense, and the key might be transition. Three of Chalmers’ five 3-pointers in that March 10 game were generated by secondary breaks, where the Pacers simply didn’t get to him in time.

So the Pacers’ defensive success may come down to their offense. If they can avoid too many live-ball turnovers and maintain floor balance, they can get back in transition, stop Miami’s attackers and get out to the shooters.

And really, the shooters might be more important than the guys with the big names.


  1. Mr Wonder says:

    the best strategy is to let Lebron get 40 points but do not allow the other players to score. shut them all down and lock them, key them down. Lebron gets the 40 points but his team loses.
    But LeBron is just so powerful now that players are already trembling when they guard him. I still think Michael Jordan is far far far greater and better than LeBron, but Lebron will be one of the Top 5 Greatest players of all times

  2. Big Al says:

    West to take on LeBron, that’s for sure

  3. Go Pacers-spank dat heat A?! real hard & smashem in the mouth!
    Pacers can & will win this series!

  4. mike says:

    Stop talking about regular season!

  5. theholyspecatator says:

    pacers have the 2nd lowest scoring bench in the nba this past regular season, lakers being the worst, your tellin me that their bench will produce 4 times and their starters produce as well, close out miami and go to the finals? now how realistic is that? i understand you indy fans and heat haters, but lets come to reality..heat in 6

  6. teo says:

    heat in six period!

  7. Ibaka says:

    this article simply says the pacers need to guard everybody, which is nothing new. u cant not guard the big names. u cant not help guard lbj.

  8. IndianaisaJoke says:

    How many more players do the pacers need? they got west hibbert paul hill and then an array of role players hansborough, stephenson, etc. dont forget their defensive philosophy….dirty Defense like the bulls.
    Yet you still say they need granger back and ANOTHER solid bench player!!
    The pacers are an all around solid team..if you cant win with this then you’ll never win.

    • dwightairballhoward says:

      even with granger they stand no chance no one can bat the heat

    • Wow... says:

      Well, they actually have been winning…

      • Me says:

        Who did they beat Miami without Bosh.We will take 103 -102 .What does it tell you 2.2 sec and they managed to cluch a win.
        Plus they were rust long lay off.Who can beat the heat

  9. theholyspecatator says:

    they also gotta contain LBJ and contain Dwade…hibert has to chase bosh to the mid court which will leave the rim open..their bench has to produce every single game at least 25-35 points. they also have to be careful with the ball..hmmm yeah dont see indy doin all this and winning many games against the heat…Miami in 6, good try indy

    • isiah thomas says:

      Maybe not this year but next with the fully healthy granger fulfilling the 6th man role,and an addition of another solid bench player,indy could have a much better chance of eliminating the heat and going to the finals.

      • theholyspecatator says:

        ehhhh cant agree with that, when you surround a nba champ, 1 time nba finals mvp and 4 times mvp…aka the best basketball player in the world with players who know their specific roles..its impossible to beat them in a 7 game series…indy needs more than a granger to compete and beat the heat to advance to the finals…unless lebron gets a season ending injury, teams like chicago/indy/knicks/boston wont be advancing to the finals and try winning a ring for a good 2-3 more seasons…after wade retires we can have this discussion..but even then miami will figure out what to do about that…who wouldnt wanna play with lebron and miami heat? heat are gonna be champs for the 20 teen years..but nice try tho

    • dwightairballhoward says:

      are we actually talking as if indiana has a chance hah now thats funny, 2 words lebron james enough said

      • KareemoftheKrop says:

        1 point loss in Miami in OT. Pacers can match up with the Heat – and too be fair, aside from Lebron and Wade, the Pacers have better talent and are just as deep.