After falling in Detroit, the Indiana Pacers bounced back against the New Jersey Nets on Monday in a 108-94 victory. Paul George showed up with 21 points and Dahntay Jones impressed off the bench as Indy cruised to 4-1. Then again, we shouldn’t make too much of this victory. I mean, the Nets did have some key players out, most notably Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries.
Tonight, Indiana faces its toughest contest of the young season, as they head over to Miami. As many of you may remember, Indiana got a victory over the revamped Heat squad last season in their first meeting on the road. The other match-ups throughout the year resulted in some close turn-outs, and I expect another close one this evening.
The Heat were on a roll out of the gate — but that came to a quick halt Monday in a 100-92 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Atlanta had big help from Tracy McGrady, who came up big in the fourth to bring Miami its first loss. The Hawks slowed down the Heat, holding them to a season-low 92 possessions. They were averaging over 101 before the game.
The Hawks broke out a zone defense on LeBron, Dwyane and Bosh, and that was the key to stopping this high-powered squad. Wade, in particular, struggled, going 4-of-17. Speaking of which, this brings us to a big match-up tonight: Paul George vs. D-Wade.
PG is coming off a great shooting game and the 6’10″ guard and will be asked to cover a guy quite a bit smaller than him. George did well helping on Deron Williams at times last night, and I expect to see him do well — as well as anyone can, anyway — when he guards Wade tonight.
Miami’s transition offense wasn’t operating so well either, if you take a look at the chart below from TrueHoop:
The Heat were also bullied in the paint, being out-scored 50-38 after previously only allowing average of 32.6 points down low per game. As we saw in the game, Miami does have a problem against the zone, and many opposing coaches are hoping to replicate Atlanta’s game plan. Hopefully, Indiana noticed. Although the Pacers really haven’t played zone defense this year, this could be the proper time.
Boston used it, and almost made a huge comeback the other night. If Minnesota and Charlotte had tried, perhaps we could see the Heat at 3-3 right now. Either way, zone defense so far looks like it is the key to stopping this high-powered offense. So as we watch the game tonight, look out for the Pacers defense if they play zone or not.