One Team, One Stat: Pacers Defend It All

From Media Day until opening night, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann will provide a key stat for each team in the league and show you, with film and analysis, why it matters. Up next are the Indiana Pacers, who were one game away from reaching The Finals..

The basics
IND Rank
W-L 49-32 8
Pace 92.8 25
OffRtg 101.6 19
DefRtg 96.6 1
NetRtg +5.0 7

The stat

1st - Where the Pacers ranked in defending the restricted area, defending corner threes, and defending above-the-break threes.

The context

Those are the three most important areas of the floor, so yeah, the Pacers had the best defense in the league. The last team to lead the league in defending the restricted area and the 3-point line was the 2000-01 Spurs.

Roy Hibbert was largely responsible for the Pacers’ success at defending the rim. Indiana opponents shot just 50.4 percent in the restricted area with Hibbert on the floor, the lowest mark for any defender in the league who faced at least 500 restricted-area shots from opponents. Indy opponents shot 57.2 percent in the restricted area with Hibbert off the floor.

The general idea behind the Pacers’ defense is that, with Paul George sticking to the opponent’s best wing scorer (even through screens), Hibbert was able to stay home at the rim and the other guys were able to stay at home on shooters. Of course, that’s a lot more simple than it really is, and the Pacers do help off their man. They just don’t over-help and make the same communication mistakes that we saw in the Nets’ video last week.

Here are clips from Game 6 of the first round, where the Hawks shot just 9-for-19 from the restricted area and 3-for-19 from 3-point range…


The Pacers’ biggest issue last season was their bench. But their bench defended the 3-point line a lot better than their starters did. In the regular season at least, Indiana’s depth issues were all about offense.

Pacers’ efficiency and opponent 3-point shooting, regular season

Lineups MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/- Opp3PM Opp3PA Opp3PT%
Starters 1,218 108.6 96.5 +12.1 +284 136 376 36.2%
Other lineups 2,698 98.5 96.7 +1.8 +42 304 968 31.4%

A lot of that is the opposing lineups the bench was facing. The were facing other reserves who didn’t shoot as well or even create as many open shots. But that 36.2 percent from beyond the arc that the starters allowed would have ranked 19th in the league. And every player in the Pacers’ rotation had a on-court DefRtg of less than 99 points per 100 possessions. After Tony Allen (94.3), Gerald Green had the lowest on-court DefRtg (95.1) among players who logged at least 1,000 minutes last season.

The playoffs were a different story though…

Pacers’ efficiency and opponent 3-point shooting, playoffs

Lineups MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/- Opp3PM Opp3PA Opp3PT%
Starters 414 109.5 94.7 +14.8 +126 49 146 33.6%
Other lineups 502 94.5 107.4 -12.9 -123 85 231 36.8%

So the Pacers went shopping for a bench this summer. They said goodbye to D.J. Augustin, Green, Tyler Hansbrough and Sam Young, bringing in Chris Copeland, Luis Scola and C.J. Watson. The return of Danny Granger also boosts the second-unit offense, whether it’s Granger or Lance Stephenson coming off the bench.

The Pacers’ offense should definitely be better. But it will be interesting to see if the second-unit defense is as strong as it was last season. As both the Bulls and Pacers have shown over the last few years, ranking No. 1 defensively takes 10 guys.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

6 Comments

  1. Jonathan says:

    To be honest, I see the Pacers making great strides in their chase for a championship. They have progressed further into the playoffs the last 3 seasons under coach Frank Vogel. I do think the Pacers’ size advantage is smaller now with the addition of Greg Oden on the Heat. The Pacers made improvements to their bench from last years’ bench. Luis Scola is a veteran PF with better shooting than Hansbrough. C.J. Watson backed up 2 of the best PGs in the league. Chris Copeland can be lethal if left open behind the 3-point line. The Pacers had the best first unit last season according to its PER. The have more Playoff experience than the young Pacers, but they are battle tested and hungry for ECF redemption. The Bulls, Nets, and Knicks are all show, no substance. Danny Granger will be the difference from last season to this season. If he goes back to the old Danny, the Pacers will be unstoppable. I’m predicting the Pacers to have home-court advantage in the playoffs, and they will defeat the Clippers in the NBA Finals. Then the Pacers will finally get respect.

  2. Eddie says:

    Should be one hell of the season for my Bulls and the Pacers. I think the Heat will be unseated this year but I wont look past the Pacers. Go Bulls!!

  3. Colin Lott says:

    The Heat barely.got through the Pacers in the ECF….that was with the poor bench and without Granger. What makes you think that they will make it past the Pacers when they have a better bench and Danny Granger is back? That isn’t going to happen. Sorry Heat fans. Move aside, it’s our turn.

  4. Tony Moua says:

    Everyone knows that indiana isn’t winning no champion until one of the three leaves miami. I am a bandwagon fan of mia but I been a lebron fan from the ver y beganning. I could careless bout what team you with but whose talented. Real recognize real and lebron james is as real as it gets. No one better in the league so quit hating on talent and start appreciating talent because once its gone its gone forever. Indiana good luck rebuilding in a few years. Great team but no leader in their pack they are all just roll players.

  5. tyrone says:

    Everyone just stay tuned to the pacers channel—I believe it will take them about 20 regular season games before they start to show the WORLD that they are the real deal. We are a match up nightmare to any team in the league, and once they decide to either put danny or lance (or both with the way rookie hill is stepping up) then everyone will know that the road to the finals comes thru INDIANA