Heat’s D Exposes Granger’s Absence

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MIAMI – This is where the Indiana Pacers really miss Danny Granger.

Despite the absence of one of their best players for all but five games this season, the Pacers took a step forward. They became the No. 1 defensive team in the league, have advanced a round further than they did a year ago, and just might have what it takes to knock off the defending champs.

Paul George has stepped into Granger’s go-to-guy shoes and Lance Stephenson has stepped into a starter’s role, enough that we sometimes forget that this team is missing a former All-Star who averaged 21.6 points over the previous five seasons.

But the Pacers did regress offensively without Granger, falling from ninth in offensive efficiency last season to 19th this year. They’ve overcome his absence thus far, but this may be the time when his knee injury hurts the most.

The Miami Heat are an aggressive defensive team on the strong side of the floor, looking to deny the post, trap pick-and-rolls and force turnovers. That in itself is an issue for the turnover-prone Pacers, but if they can move the ball successfully to the weak side, they can get open shots.

The problem is that the Pacers don’t have anybody on the weak side to really take advantage of the Heat’s aggressiveness. Their best 3-point shooters are George and George Hill, who are the guys handling the ball on the strong side.

Stephenson is most often the guy left open from beyond the arc, but he’s a career 30-percent shooter from 3-point range. He missed all five of his 3-point attempts in Game 1 on Wednesday (including one that could have given the Pacers a six-point lead with 1:21 left in overtime) and has missed his last 10 threes, going back to Game 4 of the conference semifinals.

The Pacers could ask Stephenson to run more pick-and-rolls so that George or Hill is on the weak side, but Stephenson is often very passive on high pick-and-rolls, rarely forcing the defense to rotate with penetration.

Granger has shot 38 percent from 3-point range over his career. Though he shot 1-for-10 from beyond the arc in Games 1 and 2 against the Heat last year, he made 11 of his next 23 treys and would obviously be a bigger weak-side threat than Stephenson. Not only that, he’d be another ball handler who could free George or Hill on the weak side.

“It’s a factor,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said of Granger’s absence on Thursday. “You got to be able to shoot the ball from the weak side against this team that loads to the strong side. So I think Danny Granger would have a profound impact on a series like this. But we got guys who have gotten the job done all year.”

50 Comments

  1. W/E says:

    lol, I.Thomas is the black version of the JOKER! Granger who?

  2. mr unknown says:

    if west would have hit both his free throws pacers would have won that game! bottom line! Stop making this all about lebron.. it was the fact that west missed crucial free throws down the stretch. otherwise it would be pacers 1-0

    • Rubbish says:

      Did you forget about Ray Allen missing that crucial free-throw to put them up by 4 in the 4th quarter!!! it would have iced the game. The Pacers would have lost in regulation and they lost in overtime. West missed big free-throws and so did Ray and LeBron. You must didn’t watch the game!!

  3. alberto says:

    I think this second game leave things clearer, and so it may better describe things, because in the first game does not know where this game

  4. bird says:

    heat only shot 60 plus percent on free throws, this game would’ve never gone to overtime had they shoot a little better, no way they shoot that bad again next game

  5. Maladint says:

    So far the teams that are playing hard and smart are taking control. This is good basketball that is being played.

  6. Rubbish says:

    I just hate an article such as this one……Danny Granger only avg 11 or 12 ppg against Miami last year in the second round and LBJ still avg. 30 ppg with Granger and George switching on and off of him defensively. So would Granger presence really make a difference!?! I don’t think so. Yea he brings more offense to floor than Lance Stephenson but their defense are about the same. They couldn’t beat Miami last year with a healthy team and they won’t be able to do it this year. Do anyone believe Paul George would have blossomed into an All-Star if Granger was still in the line up this season? No!! The Pacers would have been leaning toward Granger to make plays which would have overshadowed George. Yes the Pacers blew a game but so did Miami and no one is bringing that up. Ray Allen miss a free-throw and that’s a rarity. If Allen makes the free-throw the game is over and Miami wins. Also the Pacers would have never taken the lead if it wasn’t for the horrible officiating and that last desperation shot. Like Kenny said, “I didn’t see a foul”.

    • Great points, Rubbish. The refs and Miami gave them every opportunity to steal this one, but they didn’t. And, as we’ve seen, the Heat tend to get stronger as a series progresses. Heat in 5.

  7. nate says:

    BIRDMAN BIRDMAN!! (SHAQ VOICE)

  8. kobeballhog says:

    let me play pacers I’m the greatest ballhog ever, I’ll score every point and shoot like there’s no tomorrow Kobe

  9. tanibanana says:

    Granger’s presence would not help either..
    He’s good.. but not that good that can change this series.
    With the continues growth of Paul is showing,
    Pacers should just trade him for a solid player (point at at least shooting guard).

  10. ad says:

    this is abit ridiculous

    i think stephenson is becoming a solid defender/rebounder.
    george most improved player at both ends.
    plus their paint D is better than ever.
    so where does granger appear in all this?
    of course having another star scorer would be worse for heat D!

    if anything or anyone can be pointed at its not getting a better pg after nick collison.
    dj augustin is a spot up shooter and thats about it,
    so when hes on the floor he makes the heat D look good.

  11. cesar says:

    last year granger is there playing, the pacers are complete while the heat they CHRIS BOSH is not in the heat line up….and still miami wins it…..my point is it doesnt matter if granger plays……

  12. zackgoesham says:

    blackmamba38 that was the most ignorant thing i have seen on here. they won by one point that means there is room for improvement. but at the same time that might have been the pacers best shot at the heat.

    • darnall says:

      remember, the bulls came in and stole game 1 catching the miami heat on 6 day rest. the pacers had the same chance and blew it . now they are going to get sent home in four games and never make it to the east finals again. no time soon.

      • zackgoesham says:

        i know i watched that series and the bulls gave it the best they had in game one also but the heat came back with adjustments that the bulls couldnt keep up with. credit to coach spo and PAT RILEY for sure

  13. simply put this is the heat’s series. I see that the pacers are the num.1 defensive ranked team this season but them playin the heat so hard and aggressive is only preparing the het for the finals against the (more favored) spurs. so I say to the indian pacers organization, thank you for making this series so easy and making the finals even easier for the miami heat.
    #2PEAT4LBJ6

  14. He got game! says:

    Miami is just relaxing sometimes on the court but if they will pull it off together there’s no way the pacers can do to stop them.

  15. Mr Wonder says:

    why do they pay them so much money if they can’t hit three pointers??? If you paid me $17m a year, I will never miss a three-pointer. I will even practice so hard that I will defend 5 people at the same time and still score a minimum of 55 points per game.
    The NBA just gives these guys so much money and they can’t play. None of them is good

  16. Fefe (Nets) says:

    The people here saying that Granger would be useless or that is overrated have either a short memory, or they don’t know basketball, or they are just plain stupid. A great shooter who can score in bunch. With him even playing few minutes off the bench (if it was possible), it would bring much more dynamic to the team (which struggles when the bench has to play). You also have one more threat from the outside who can knock three-pointers at any time.
    Indiana with Granger would be always better than without.

    • 6DAKING says:

      lol he shot 20% from the 3 this year and shot 38% last year….i doubt he can knock down a trey at any time. not to mention the dude cant stay healthy.. there is a reason he is out. he never was and never will be a threat to dade counties finest!!

  17. arhyzz says:

    at the its, LBJ.. hehhehe

  18. blackmamba38 says:

    what the hell the miami players need to improve??? whaaaatttt??? they have proved already since last year… you don’t have to say that coz’ they were 2012 champion and now they again made it to eastern finals. The pacers need to improve for them to get the title. Go heat!

  19. Kijempe Jr. says:

    that was “two” lucky 3s by george. it won’t be the same again.

  20. Joe says:

    If I remember right, LeBron had 5 fouls at that time. Wouldn’t be worth it to foul out on the chance that they could have missed the second freethrow and gotten a putback. That was a lucky 3 by George anyway. That is how it goes sometimes.

  21. Axel says:

    I was just listening to the experts discussing that last 2.2s ont he clock situation. And the guy on the right (dont know his name though) is so smart in saying that Hibbert was well lacked the authority to insist on staying on the court and instilling trust in his coach to handle the situation. A Tim Duncan would have done what??! In fact I believe we have seen similar crunch time situations (though with more time on the clock) where he came on even after being in the locked room with flue like symptoms. I just hope Indiana can make this up by taking the next game to steel the home court advantage away from the Heat. I would not want this series to be decided through a mistake like this. Especially in favor of the Heat – they have got far too much talent on the court in order to have it their way. So, let’ s see what happens tonight…If Pacers manage to protect the zone better, then it will be all down to Miami shooters. If Batier, Allen, Chalmers…etc can catch fire.

  22. what? says:

    @ josh

    LeBron has 5 fouls…why do you want to foul West?

    come on man!!

  23. basketballfan says:

    out with the old in with the new. PGeorge is young, the only thing that can slow his career is, though im not wishing it to happen, an injury. Still, 6 games is the safe prediction but i think the heat’s going to win it at 4 or 5.

  24. MACKY says:

    I agree with that Josh, still too much points need Miami to improve, every position and every seconds Is very important specially if your playing with very talented team. even Miami took game 1 they have to improve more in game 2. ray allen and N. Cole need to step up more in shooting range, bosh almost 0 rebounds. Game 1 is not the best of Miami playing.

  25. Berdugo says:

    The difference could sway both ways. If Granger was playing, it’s either that he’s going to have an excellent offensive night and win it for Indiana, or he could have his worst shooting night and probably not even reach OT on Game 1. It’s better to take it as it is and move forward.

  26. Mafi says:

    @josh….lol mate you’re pretty much repeating what Reggie Miller said when George got that 3 with 0.7 left on the clock. You wouldn’t even know that if Reggie Miller mentioned it. The FACT is LBJ, Coach Spo and the team, most likely already knew that was an option, but instead they decided to just D up in the end. It didn’t quite work out, but that last play in OT, was flawless!! You’ll probably need to watch it a couple of times to appreciate its genius!!

  27. J says:

    thats one BIG might at the start of the article

  28. jack23 says:

    Granger is overrated! in that semifinals last year i remember how he pulled his dirty physical tactics to guard Lebron, he is useless,..this series will have a big impact of coaches adjustments, how and when will they utilize one’s talent, defense will help win you games but offense will definitely a big factor, with that Miami has the advantage.

  29. Another Heat Fan says:

    Pacers played a hell of a game 1, but i think that’s as close as they’ll get.

    That paul george 3 that sent it to OT, i don’t think that will happen again…

    • Victor says:

      i agree.

      i think that was a major psychological blow to the still inexperienced/arrogant pacers, and already in game 1!

      that 4th quarter 3 by george was the basketball gods giving the Pacers a chance to build some momentum and make this a series… that’s done.

      At least the Bulls did it, but ever since they’re game 1 win they got man handled in so many different ways it was hard to watch. It reached a point where I actually felt bad for Joakin Noah.

  30. blackmamba38 says:

    Miami defeated pacers last year with the presence of granger. Certainly, the heat can again grab the crown this year esp now that they have good additional players like andersen and allen.

  31. jul3z says:

    of coarse you would delete my comment haha

  32. Marlo says:

    Articles like this makes me believe anyone can be a journalist. Danny Granger who?

  33. expulsado says:

    i’ll take paul george all day for granger…. george is more reliable than granger……. i think if granger is in the floor last game, he would most probably take the last shot trying to send it to ot and will missed it… granger is overrated…. it would be easier for miami if granger is in the line up..

    • Realist1234 says:

      12 hours ago the story was that the Heat were lucky to escape from a stifling Pacers defense, which, if not for 2 periods where they simply were lacking in concentration, the Heat would have lost home court. Now the story is that the Pacers are flawed offensively?

      The Pacers were something like 28th worst offense for half the season, and jumped to 20th shortly after the allstar break, and 19th overall. The Pacers offense has been FANTASTIC in the 2nd half of the season. Way to look up overly simplistic stats and draw inane conclusions, Mr. Schuhmann.

      It’s utterly ridiculous to draw any sort of conclusion from the result of ONE game decided by ONE point. Had Vogel realized his mistake in pulling Hibbert and left him in the 2nd time, this story would be about how the Pacers exposed the Heat, instead of the other way around. The media simply doesn’t want to admit that these teams are MUCH closer in talent than anyone gave them credit for.

      • Victor says:

        you made a lot of sense and gained a lot of credibility until you said…

        “…these teams are MUCH closer in talent than anyone gave them credit for.”

        Thats nuts dude and I’m not even going to bother engaging in that kind of conversation…

        The Heat will make their adjustments and you’ll see them gradually crush Indiana harder and harder.

        No one realizes that the Miami Heat are still focused on getting better and playing perfect team basketball with every game they play.

        With the exception of maybe Game 1 of the Bulls series and Game 1 of the Pacers series… the Heat are treating these games as if they were regular season games. The score board even shows it, the post game interviews even show it.

        And that is why their 3rd title will come to them this year.

    • The Arbiter says:

      I totally agree with you bro George is playing better than Granger at the moment and has been shooting well. The Heat are better this year than last year as well so that’s how they overcame Pacers in Game 1.

    • Joost says:

      The thing is Granger would be ANOTHER chip the Pacers could throw at you. He’s another lengthy player who can play minutes at SF aswell as PF, knows how to hit timely shots, doesn’t turn the ball over a lot. Just figure if he were to be the Pacers 6th man now. That’s huge, playing against the opposing teams bench players.

      It also would give their lineup a lot more dynamic offensively with George in at the sametime. Spacing the floor and going inside-out would be much more of a threat. You can’t downplay that. Lance brings more to the table defensively and has his own advantages too (like huge speed and strength), but a healthy Granger is better then a healthy Lance, what’s more a healthy Granger, Lance and George is an AWESOME wing rotation.

    • Bogieman says:

      So im not entirely sure on what basis you are making these claims. Granger shot 38% from 3 last year (only played 5 games this year) and 42% from the field. George shot 36% and 42% respectively this year… very similar if you ask me.

  34. josh says:

    Let’s be honest here. James should have fouled West with about 4 seconds on the clock in regulation. If he hits both shots the Heat are still up by 1. Then the Pacers would have to foul (likely LeBron) and when they get the ball back could not advance the ball meaning the game is over. I was shocked James did not foul West there. For a guy as savvy as him it really was a cardinal sin for my mind. Of course, West may have deliberately missed his second free-throw but I still think Miami would have done enough boxing out and then called time-out. Should have, could have, would have. Anyhow that is my two cents worth.

    • Adrian says:

      Lebron made 2 crucial layups, late in reg. and again to close game. Could have, Should have, DID

    • Monte says:

      Who won the game? those are more of excuses than an explanation. maybe it would of been better to foul, but what if lebron did go to the line and miss both or one freethrow? then thats when people would thinks thats stupid and we all saw ray allen miss the freethrow underpressure and he ‘s the best freethrow shooter on the team.

  35. Ryan says:

    At the end of the day I feel like it wouldn’t matter if they had Granger or not. Lebron James is such a dynamic player, with his ability to involve the right guys at the right now it would be very difficult for just about any team to truly stop the defending champs. Heat in 5 is what I think.