- Teams: Detroit Pistons (27-47) at Indiana Pacers (52-33)
- Date: April 2, 2014
- Time: 7:00 p.m.
- Television: FSD
What to look for
The Indiana Pacers will be the No. 2 seed tonight when they enter the contest with the Detroit Pistons.
Indiana owned the best record in the league throughout much of the season, but they have stumbled in the second half. The Pacers won 40 of their first 52 games, but the All-Star break seemed to slow them down.
Indiana is only 12-11 since All-Star weekend, mostly because the defense has slipped. Initially, the Pacers looked like the best defensive team in league history – yes, better than the 2004 Detroit Pistons – given how easily they shut down opponents.
Frank Vogel’s unit was beating up teams despite a somewhat mediocre offense because the defense was essentially elite. Provided that his players maintained that level of commitment and excellence, the team had a shot at making the NBA Finals.
However, they have regressed on both ends. The offense has fallen apart, and the defense has clearly seen better days. Indy has had the fifth best defense in the league since mid-February per NBA.com.
That’s hardly a death sentence, but the offense has fallen off a cliff during the same time span. As a reference point, it’s been slightly better than the Philadelphia 76ers’ offense, which ranks in the bottom of the league since the All-Star break, according to NBA.com.
The issue is the team’s attitude as David Aldridge noted over at NBA.com:
When the Pacers play against really good defenses like Miami and Chicago, the ball moves from side to side, inside-out, and the Pacers look like the championship contender they are. But when they play against less celebrated defenses, the ball too often sticks. And [Paul] George, too often, is believed to be the main culprit.
This was on full display earlier in the week against the San Antonio Spurs, and ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst captured the details:
[Roy] Hibbert, frustrated by a lack of touches recently, forced some shots. George, who has been criticized for not acting like the superstar he is, tried too hard to take over and found himself going 1-on-3 as he tried to will himself into making plays in what turned out to be futile second half.
The Pacers must now find a way to bounce back, otherwise they will be in danger of losing a little more ground in the standings. Perhaps a matchup with the Pistons will help them get out of their funk, but then again, it’s entirely possible that their issues will be exposed yet again.
The Pistons have one of the worst defenses in the league, and Indiana has had issues against these types of teams because of their willingness to be one-dimensional against them.
Also, let’s not forget, Detroit is one of the five teams that actually secured a victory in Indiana this season, and that was when the Pacers were playing at the top of their game back in December.
Detroit used a 15-rebound edge to beat Indy on their home floor. To be fair, Detroit is every bit as different now as Indiana. The Pistons have seemingly given up on the season, which gives the Pacers an opportunity to right the ship.
Still, it feels like this game could be better than anticipated when looking at the teams on paper.