The Pacers aren’t destroying their opponents on the way to the playoffs and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference the way the current No. 1 seed in the Western Conference â€” the Spurs â€” has been doing recently. Indiana is limping towards the finish and only lead the Heat by a single game with a little over two weeks to go. In fact, center Roy Hibbert said, “there are some selfish dudes in here,” after the Pacers got beat in Washington last Friday night.
The Pacers are ranked in the bottom third of the NBA for points per possession. They’re still the staunchest defense around â€” holding opponents to just 95.5 points per 100 possessions, the top mark in the league â€” but they’ve squandered that defensive acumen with some me-first basketball on the other end of the court.
The Pacers have the third worst assist ratio in the league, as of this writing, and they’re turning the ball over a lot more than coach Frank Vogel would is comfortable with. They’re ranked in the bottom five for assist-to-turnover ratio, and they have some glaring lapses in judgement on the offensive end agianst inferior compeition.
Perhaps that’s why the Pacers have lost their last two â€” in Washington on Friday and in Cleveland on Sunday â€” while continuing to make their current position as the top seed in the East a harder proposition.
Following Friday’s 91-78 loss in Washington, Hibbert said, by way of NBA.com’s David Aldridge, “there are some selfish dudes in [the Pacers' locker-room].
“Some selfish dudes. I’m tired of talking about it. We’ve been talking about it for a month,” Hibbert elaborated.
While Hibbert, and teammate David West, didn’t explicitly call out Paul George for a me-first attitude, Aldridge alludes to him as the primary culprit in his Monday morning column:
It’s been a problem for Indiana since February, and while no one will specify a name, it’s obvious that the person in question is All-Star Paul George. While Lance Stephenson occasionally pounds the ball, nobody handles or hoists the rock as much as George does. It is not a problem every night, though, and that is part of the problem.
It seems Indiana’s sharing the basketball against their primary challenger in the East, Miami, but once they’re playing other teams who lack the talent to be real challengers in the LEastern Conference’s year-lond two-way race, the offensive cohesion breaks down, and players are trying to get their own looks to the detriment of the team.
“We know we can’t beat Miami playing that way, so we don’t play that way,” said forward David West â€” who also didn’t single anyone out individually. “We know what the margin for error is. I think everybody, to a man in this locker room, just feels like we’ve got to figure out a way to play better, have a better approach to the way we play offensive basketball. It’s just not good for us.”
While George is sporting a career high PER, and his True Shooting percentage and Effective field goal percentage are higher than last year â€” even with an increased usage percentage, he needs to learn how to get his big men involved â€” particularly Hibbert, who absolutely toasts Miami whenever they play.
If the Pacers can’t overcome their offensive doldrums in the final eight games of the regular season, Miami might again secure the top spot in the East and home-court advantage if â€” or more likely, when â€” the Pacers and Heat meet for the third straight year in the postseason. Then again, if Indiana keeps going at their current rate â€” struggling against teams they were handling easily earlier in the year â€” Indiana might not even get a chance to avenge last year’s loss to Miami in Game 7.
What do you think?
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