By now, all Pacers fans should know that the team’s surprisingly good 9-9 record has largely been achieved through defense. They are the 8th best defensive team so far this season and a very impressive 3rd in FG% allowed (43.2%).
As Sebastian Pruiti points out at Basketball Prospectus, Indiana also excels at protecting the paint.
The Pacers’ biggest strength on the defensive end is protecting the paint and the area around it. Opponents’ shooting percentages in the three shot locations inside 15 feet (according to HoopData.com) are all below the league average. They are holding opponents to 58.7 percent shooting at the rim (2nd in the NBA), 41.1 percent shooting from less than 10 feet (sixth in the NBA), and 28.5 percent shooting from 10 to 15 feet (which leads the league). The main reason Pacers are able to protect the paint because they do a great job defending opponents’ post-ups and pick-and-rolls. On plays that Synergy Sports Technology labels “Post-Up,” the Pacers rank eighth in the NBA allowing just .80 points per possession on 36.6 percent shooting.
Much of this of course can be credited directly to Roy Hibbert. His slimmed-down physique, increased mobility and understanding of how to use these new tools continues to be the major story of the Pacers season. We have seen how a perimeter-oriented big can still cause him great problems, but when it comes to defense in the lane, Roy has been excellent all year.