by Navindra Persaud
When the Miami Heat defeated the Indiana Pacers last Friday, it showed quite a bit of weakness in the Pacers offense. As things stand, the Pacers are in the number two spot in the Eastern Conference but they will need to figure out a way to get past the offensive slump that they have been in lately.
There has been very little effective ball movement from the Pacers on the offensive end, and they are very fortunate to at least have the number two seed. They may survive the first round of the NBA playoffs, but may not make it out of the second round if they have to face the Chicago Bulls, who have really put together a stellar season, given the circumstances following Derrick Rose’s season ending injury and other ailing players.
Brian Windhorst said it best in his article for ESPN last Saturday: “All of it comes down to their struggle to execute such basic concepts like throwing entry passes, standing in the best spot or setting a screen that actually screens someone. There’s sloppiness and poor execution everywhere.”
It is hard to pinpoint whether the problem is with Frank Vogel’s coaching or simply just the players failing to understand, but he looked visibly upset with the way his offense was performing. Vogel stated in a post game interview for ESPN that he was still confident in the team and still believes that the team is in good shape.
Indiana guard Paul George, who finished the game against the Heat with 22 points, five rebounds and five assists in the loss also said that the team needs to be able to “prepare well.” He relied on the excuse that in the playoffs the team understands that it’s a clean slate and that they will be able to start fresh. Though this may be the case, the Pacers should worry about their offensive problems now in order to make a statement in the closing games of the regular season.
The Miami Heat have managed to show that they don’t plan on cruising out the remainder of the season and that is something the Pacers should strongly try to mimic. It would be in their best interest to start putting the fear in other teams in the Eastern Conference.
In the last 13 games that the Pacers have played they have only scored above 90 points four times. They managed to get through the season and just finding their offense at times, but streaky will not be enough to get them through the playoffs and into championship contention.
Fans also have to take into consideration that the Pacers struggled even with Miami guard Dwayne Wade sitting out of the game. With Miami’s full roster, the Pacers have to worry about Wade as another offensive threat that they will either need to match or eliminate by playing excellent on the defensive end.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chicago Bulls posed more of a threat to Miami than the Indiana Pacers do at this point because of their effective defense. While Indiana’s defense is decent, it is clearly not enough to offset a smooth offensive team like the Bulls have managed to be this season.
Paul George is a great scorer but he can not bear the load on his own, and so far this season starting point guard, George Hill, has only managed to average 10.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists. To have a point guard struggling as Hill wasn’t able to score against the Heat.
The Pacers are being a little bit too passive and they do not look like a team who is hungry enough to win the NBA championship. They need to whip themselves into shape as the regular season comes to a close.