It’s early in the year, but it is still impressive to watch how teams in the NBA adjust to create opportunities to win. In their last two games, the Indiana Pacers have defeated the best two teams in the Eastern Conference and have done so their own way. Instead of changing their game to beat the New York Knicks and Miami Heat; the Pacers have turned to their lock down defense and forced both of these teams into ugly, grinding games that would remind most NBA fans of the 80s and 90s. With these two performances the Pacers have placed themselves in a strong position, even without their team leader.
In two performances this week, the Pacers have looked like a defensive titan that can hold any team in check. On Tuesday they held the Heat to 77 points and followed up on Thursday by holding the Knicks to 76 points. In doing so, they pushed their home court record to 14-3 and looked to be the best defensive team in the entire league.
Coming out of those games, the Pacers now sit with the second best points allowed average at 89.1 points per game. Watching them against the number one and two teams in the East showed just how their defensive style has the potential to truly pressure teams through the long haul of the season and playoffs. Across these two games, the Pacers held two of the most potent offensives in the league to a combined 59 of 157 which equates to 37.6 percent shooting from the field. The Knicks have been shooting nearly 40 percent from three-point range as a team all year but shot a dismal 20 percent last night from beyond the arc.
The Pacers are using a swarming, very physical style of play that is keeping teams from getting set in their offensive and every shot seems to be contested in some form or fashion. JR Smith has been the Knicks go to scorer when Carmelo Anthony is unavailable and even though he had 25 points, he had to get there on 10-29 shooting on the night.
Against the Heat the Pacers used a different style of defense which forced other players to attempt to defeat them. LeBron James and Dwayne Wade were effective on the night as they shot a combined 52.7 percentage from the floor. Chris Bosh was able to add 14 points to the effort, but no other Heat player was able to score more than five points.
These types of efforts are what separate teams throughout the NBA season. It’s often pointed out that the teams that are successful late in the year and in the playoffs are able to play tough defense that keeps their opponents from going on scoring runs. If these two games are any type of example, the Pacers will truly be a group to reckon with once we enter the final quarter of the 2012-2013 NBA season.