The Scouting Report: Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers are going through what Indianapolis Star beat writer Candace Buckner said is a “bizarro” season after making consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Paul George was lost to a gruesome leg injury. Lance Stephenson left for more teal pastures to Charlotte in free agency. George Hill injured his knee which then turned into a quad tear. Second year player Solomon Hill is leading the team in minutes and Chris Copeland is getting big time minutes.
But the Pacers have still managed to stay competitive relative to the Eastern Conference. If they were in the West, they would be at the bottom of the conference but in the East they are just a game out of the 8th seed.
The biggest reason why the Pacers have maintained some level of respectability has been their top-ten defense. They’re currently ninth in the league in defensive rating according to Basketball-Reference and they are doing that without their three top perimeter defenders from last season.
The Pacers front line from last season played together for the first time all season against Phoenix they were blown out easily by the faster, high-powered Suns. The Pacers do have a quality win against the Mavericks earlier this year and the Blazers are 7-0 against the Eastern Conference going into this evening’s match-up.
Realistically, the Pacers shouldn’t have a chance against the Blazers at home. But that’s why they play the games. If the Blazers struggle on offense and the Pacers can find some decent offensive success against Portland’s defense which has been uneven over the past three games, it could be a good one.
Frank Vogel has done a wonderful coaching job to help keep the Pacers in respectable position in the Eastern Conference while putting out a depleted roster for much of the season. He’s done a great job, but coaching can only do so much. They’ll need to replicate the mojo that helped them beat Dallas.
They didn’t have David West against Dallas and with his return to the line-up, he’s their best offensive player. He can help their offense breathe with midrange shooting and he’s a solid defender and rebounder.
Indiana is still overmatched.
But the Blazers have been solid on both ends to start the year and a slip-up against a team like Indiana would seem uncharacteristic.