Blazer Banter

The Scouting Report: Indiana Pacers

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

In an attempt to help you get to know the Blazers opponent each night, we are going to post a little bit of a scouting report of each team on the blog before each game. Tonight’s opponent are the 16-1 Indiana Pacers, who have the best record in the NBA. Tip-off is at 7PM and the game will be shown on CSNNW.

Projected starting line-up: George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West, Roy Hibbert

New faces: C.J. Watson (Brooklyn), Luis Scola (Phoenix), Donald Sloan (Cleveland/New Orleans), Chris Copeland (New York), Solomon Hill (rookie)

The Pacers took the eventual NBA Champions to the brink of elimination in the Eastern Conference Finals with a bench that was almost as awful as last year’s Blazers team.

Without Danny Granger, Paul George moved to the small-forward position and Lance Stephenson was inserted into the starting line-up. George was trusted with playmaking duties and although he struggled with turnovers at times, their new starting line-up was one of the best line-ups in the league.

George introduced himself to the world in the Eastern Conference going toe-to-toe with LeBron James, Stephenson won a playoff game and the Pacers proved that they can score in the playoffs.

Eventually James took over, the Pacers were unable to keep up and they had to reload.

During the offseason, the Pacers bolstered their thin bench by adding Luis Scola to back up David West and they upgraded their back-up point guard spot with C.J. Watson.

What some may have underestimated was just how much better their players could be as George has become even better and Stephenson is making “the leap” in his third season.

Stephenson, the man they’ve called “Born Ready” since his high-school days, has already recorded two triple-doubles and was three points shy of one Friday.

Defensively, however, is where the Pacers have been next level. Roy Hibbert is a leading candidate for Defensive Player of The Year and leads the NBA in blocks this season.

As a team, the Pacers are playing at a historic level. According to Basketball-Reference.com, they are currently allowing only 92.6 points per 100 possessions.

If the season ended today that would be the best defensive efficiency since the 1974-75 Washington Bullets.

Terry Stotts adopted a lot of principals from Indiana’s Frank Vogel such as keeping two big men on the floor at almost all times. Indiana also runs the ideal version, with better suited defensive personnel, of Portland’s pick and roll defensive scheme.

The Blazers have been a great offense all season long. But tonight is going to be a challenge against a defense that is playing at historically great levels.

Despite the fact their offense is ranked in the middle of the road in the league, Indiana can score when they need to.

Something that has been a struggle this season for the Blazers has been keeping opposing teams off the offensive glass. The Pacers won last night against the Clippers by getting key offensive rebounds down the stretch, getting a total of 17 on the night.

They are the best team in the NBA right now and pride themselves on taking away everything teams want to do well.

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He started writing about NBA Basketball for SwishScout.com before being the Sports Reporter Intern for TrailBlazers.com. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers news.

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