Post-Game Grades: Heat Embarrass Pacers in Miami

Sweeping the Miami Heat in the regular season was a pipe dream. This could well be the best NBA team in a decade and while the Pacers had to thrilled to come away with two victories, it is bittersweet considering just how lopsided this game was.

Miami simply out-classed Indiana on both ends, clearly illustrating just how wide of a gap exists between the two teams when each is playing at its peak.

The shooting by the Pacers was bad enough (41.3% for the game), but more disturbing was how easily the Heat just took the ball away. The Pacers’ perimeter players — plus David West at times — just didn’t seem to understand that guys like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade live in passing lanes. Instead, they continually threw half-hearted swing passes, kick-outs and interior dishes that were, at best, deflected and recovered or, often, stolen and taken the other way.

The Pacers did not seem to understand the quickness, athleticism, power and anticipation that the Heat have on the perimeter. In the third matchup of the year — following the six games the teams played last postseason — that is what seemed the most disturbing.

On the positive side, physical variables are a thing that can snowball in an NBA game.

We have seen the Pacers, for example, do it to teams all season: they impose their will early on defense and the other team is never able to get comfortable running offensive sets.

And it’s not like we haven’t seen the Pacers’ offense flounder, oh, three dozens times this season already. It’s just that, generally, when this team can’t score it is because they slog their way through the shot clock and listlessly meander around until somebody tosses up a shot.

We have less often seen this offense get straight bullied, beat up and bruised.

Miami played the role of the dominant defense in this one, making Indiana’s passers look half their size and one-fourth as strong. It is just strange to see a guy like West get trapped on the perimeter and look helpless while weakly pivoting and trying to find somebody — anybody — to get the ball to.

More often, the case seemed to just be carelessness. Paul George and George Hill threw swing passes that were fine in terms of ball reversal, but just weak and slow execution-wise. They lacked zip.

This wasn’t surprising.

The Pacers have just recently figured out how to move the ball around and attack in ways that consistently lead to scoring chance. Against the Pistons and Magics of the world, that is enough. They have been able to beat the rotations by just making the right decisions alone.

We have seen against Miami, and also Boston, that that isn’t enough against better, hungrier, less passive defenses. Guys like LeBron and Avery Bradley don’t let you dictate what you want to do. Bradley’s pressure is more visible, but LeBron (and Wade) apply theirs less obviously, baiting you into thinking a passing lane is available before pouncing.

What we have seen since the All-Star break — as the Pacers have learned to shoot higher percentages, work the ball through their sets better and involve everyone in the attack — has been promising.

But to take it to the next level — a level that can propel this team to the Eastern Conference Finals — it’s not enough to just have good ideas. It’s not enough to know where the next pass should go. It’s not enough to swing the ball when you should swing or kick out when you should drive and kick.

No. The next level includes delivering the ball on point, quickly and with enough zip that the opposition has to react to you. Because if the Pacers’ offense tries to play a series against Miami where it is reacting to what the Heat defense does, they won’t even make it game six this time.

Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 8.41.30 PM

Here is how each guy played individually tonight. Agree? Disagree? Express your thoughts below in the comments or yell at me (@8pts9secs) or Tim (@TimDonahue8p9s) on Twitter.

David West, PF 34 MIN | 7-10 FG | 10-11 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 24 PTS | -17 

Shot very well and ensured the Pacers stayed in the game as long as they did.

Paul George, SF 41 MIN | 2-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 10 PTS | -20 

It’s one thing to miss shots, but he was hoisting some bad looks and being overly cavalier with his passes, allowing Miami to get deflections and steals that sparked their break.

Roy Hibbert, C 32 MIN | 7-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 16 PTS | -31 

Gave further credence to the idea that the Pacers can give Miami trouble inside. Just one rebound is a joke.

George Hill, PG 22 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -22 

Hit a three early and did nothing much helpful after that.

Lance Stephenson, SG 33 MIN | 1-5 FG | 4-5 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -20 

Was completely neutralized by the Heat’s wing defenders and was never able to get out into the open court to help a struggling Pacers’ offense pick up some easy points.

Tyler Hansbrough, PF 14 MIN | 0-3 FG | 4-6 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +3 

Nothing to be excited about.

Jeff Pendergraph, PF 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +7 

Garbage time.

Sam Young, SF 7 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +2 

Right on.

Ian Mahinmi, C 13 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +10 

Was unable to make his presence felt much.

Ben Hansbrough, PG 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +7 

Garbage minutes.

D.J. Augustin, PG 24 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +1 

Shot very well, obviously, and generally tried to use his quickness to his advantage. He wasn’t always successful, however, as the offense sputtered for long stretches with him on the court.

Orlando Johnson, SG 15 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +10 

Played fine.

Tags: Game Recap

  • Nik Petrovic

    i had no problem with this loss, in fact i liked the gameplan. let bosh and chalmers take over 1/3 of their shots. like they’ll ever score 50 pts on 75% shooting again. it was a fluke. those shots were almost all long jumpers (they only made 2 inside of 17ft.) live and die by them. in this game those jumpers allowed the heat to keep the lead even as the pacers kept crawling back into it. maybe they could do it once more. but in a 7 game series? that’s not beating anyone- they need lebron to dominate.

    as JW said, too many lazy passes, i’m sure this is something that can be honed in on and fixed. but holding lebron to 13pts, with an ast:to ratio under 2… i’ll take it. and wade would have had a shit game too if it wasn’t for his 6 steals. that and the lucky shooting got miami the W (and a little help from the refs: seriously, three defensive 3sec violations in the first half on indiana?? miami does that on every single play.)

    i dont think miami proved anything. bosh/chalmers had a once in a lifetime shooting night, and indiana played about as sloppy as they have all season. indiana still wins the series 2-1 and is +9 in pts diff against them. i dont see why everyone is discounting those first two games as if miami just didnt try as hard or something. its still the same team, it was just a different night…

    • Jack Wright

      I agree. But PG and Hill (and Lance) need to play better from now on against the Heat. PG especially needs to stop with the turnovers, but I’m starting to give up on him in that department.

      And the Heat were hacking on defense without calls being made.

    • Joe Betz

      Completely agree. The Pacers needed to lose, I think, to look at film and learn from the experience: this is what the best team in the league can do to you if you aren’t playing at your highest level.

      PG’s road woes are worrisome–he will need at least one big game on the road for the Pacers to have a chance.

      Stephenson had the most to gain in learning from this experience. Expect him to be better…he seems to thrive on competing against James and Wade, and that will fuel him moving forward.

      The bench – is better but still the Pacers biggest weakness.

      Finally: Danny Granger is needed to win a series against the Heat.

  • David Varney

    Agree w/ a lot of this. Bosh/Chalmers won’t EVER combine for 50 again. Bosh is a bit of a problem though. Hibbert can’t guard out at the 3pt line & Bosh is a decent spot up shooter from range. But that said, he still ain’t shootin 75% again, so it was flukey.

    Pacers guard play was BAD last yr vs Miami in the playoffs & not much has changed. They just don’t have good vision/awareness. You can’t telegraph your passes vs athletic quick defenders like Lebron & D Wade. They will eat you alive & make you pay for it w/ easy transition scores. George Hill being in foul trouble half the game didn’t help, but Paul George was REALLY bad. Superstar in the making? I dunno too many superstars making that many bonehead decisions. In general against the athletic Heat, the Pacers need to iso more & stop making so many passes. If you can’t pass the ball w/ skill, why make 10 passes per trip down the floor. Just Iso West or Hibbert (or whoever is lucky enough to be guarded by that scrub Battier) in the post & be content w/ 2-4 passes max & a shot. The more the Pacers pass, the more they increase their turnover chances. Better passing teams don’t have to worry about this, but the Pacers most def do.

    And lastly, 100% agree w/ the fan saying the Heat got away w/ a lot of hacking. Tyler practically had to call the police on a couple plays. Heat were right up in the Pacers grill hacking their hands when they went to dribble & pass & no calls were ever really made. All the foul calls were on shots. Refs didn’t wanna blow the whistle 50% of all trips down the court, so they allowed the Heat to get away w/ lots of slapping/hacking/body checks.

    • Jack Wright

      yep exactly. if they’re allowed to do that sh*t in the playoffs, we’re in big trouble

    • dwaink

      i got to disagree on a lot of this. the Pacers never got into any kind of offensive rhythm. no one had a hot hand and this team needs to learn how to grind out drives to the paint, get the other team in foul trouble and get(and make) free throws. Lance did nothing to make Bron tired guarding him, likewise PG, it isn’t enough to guard these guys well on d, u have to run them to death on offense too. iso is what is wrong with this offense, they need pick and rolls(and the playmakers to feed the passes) and crossing moves in the paint to open someone up. instead we get 3 guys standing at the 3 point line and 2 big men facing 4 defenders in the paint area, against a good team this will never work, they just collapse on the iso and slash at the ball. the Pacers are still not able to finish at the rim, and that will kill them in the end…yes the heat were crazy on hitting shoots but they cowed this team badly, the Pacers were beaten by the middle of the second period and never recovered. someone on this team needs to drop a pair and force the game into their pace. i still say they looked like frightened rabbits, afraid of their own shadows out there. Larry was wrong, soft isnt the right word T-I-M-I-D is closer to describe the way they played, since when is Tyler afraid to get his shot 8 foot from the rim? and wiff on a free throw? the coaches have got to find a way to get this team into a mindset that disreguards intimidation and instead recognizes when no one has a hot hand and iso isnt working and goes to a drive the lane and free throw, pick and roll…u know …actual plays….this looked for all the world like those terrible playoff games against miami last year…just utter defeat written all over them…sure i am generalizing and a little over the top…but not by much

      • Nik Petrovic

        it was 44-46 with 3min left in the 2nd… what do you mean “Pacers were beaten?”

        • dwaink

          just the hang dog way they were playing, we got to watch turnover after turnover and futile offensive sets, sure they were in the game but miami was the one controling things…i just dont wanna see the pacers fight their way into a series with miami and playlike this again, they have got to find methods that will always work…this is why this team misses DG so much because Danny knew to put the ball on the court and drive the lane to force the def into a mistake when nothing else was working. no one has stepped up to fill that void and for the pacers to go far someone must…Hill, George, Lance someone has to figure out how to control dribble the ball past great defenders into the lane for a layup or a foul, and score when no one is hot. this will include real screens and someone slashing across the paint to be open for a quick pass and a layup too(i really like Green in that role)…not trying to be pessimistic it just is the reality of where they stand(as of the miami game), maybe they should ask Reggie how hard it is to get close and fail, that they must strike while they have the players and the possibility or risk never earning a ring…they have that shot right now if they take it by the horns, man up and make it happen…who knows how long that window will be open

          • Nik Petrovic

            i agree with everything you said there. a pep talk from Reggie is just what they need. and if DG was back we’d be talking about how nice it was to sweep and if it could carry over to the playoffs.

            it was sad to see them play so lethargically. it’s almost like they thought they would lose, so why even bother trying? i think the spurs were less obvoius when they sat out duncan, parker, manu, green & leonard. i am hoping that Vogel is actually trying to be a super genius like Pop, using jedi mind tricks to make the heat feel like they have the upper hand going into the post season, holding back the real gameplan and effort, then will completely flip the script on them in the ECF… wouldnt that be something?

          • dwaink

            from yer lips to gods ears :)

      • Jack Wright

        Basically isolating West works but not Hibbert. We needed better offensive rythmn, for sure. I think it was hard with the Heat’s defense–they’re already a good defensive team, but they stepped up their D big time for this game–along with the hacking that was going on every time down the floor. No other team gets away with that sh*t.

    • lil-bang

      Comment on your Superstar in the making…looked up PG’s stats this year compared to Danny’s 3rd year:
      Min:-36- 37.9
      Shooting %: 44.6- 42.4
      Shots/game: 15.1- 15.1
      3pt %: 40.4- 38.5
      3pt/game: 5.3- 6.0
      FTA: 4.7- 3.1
      FT%- 85.2- 81.7
      Offensive Rebounds: 1.2- 1.2
      Defensive Rebounds: 4.9- 6.7
      Assists: 2.1- 4.0
      TO: 2.1- 3.0
      A/TO: 1- 1.33
      BLK: 1.1- 0.7
      STL: 1.2- 1.8
      PTS: 19.6- 17.6
      Alot of arguments could go either way saying oh Danny was on a bad team or oh George is on a good team…but the numbers show George if slightly worse than Danny was on Offense, but slighltly better on defense-if Danny is not a SUPERSTAR, then I wouldn’t hold my breath for Paul George to be either…

      • Jack Wright

        those arguments are completely relevant, though. so don’t disregard them. PG is playing on a good-great team and still putting up the stats that Danny did when Danny was on a weak team. That’s a big deal. PG also is much better defensively and has a better ability at making passes that allow easy shots for his teammates. PG also has shown that he can be red hot from behind the 3pt line, and I don’t recall DG showing this when he was in his 3rd year. PG is also younger than DG was at that point.

        All of that said, PG’s turnovers and lack of ability to dribble in traffic are things to keep in mind. But all in all, I really don’t see the point in making these comparisons. We need a healthy Granger in order to do what we want to do in the playoffs. which is, of course, to beat the Heat.

        • lil-bang

          The point I was making is that alot of people think Danny Granger was a decent, but over-rated player, but think Paul George is the next big thing. The only thing is their numbers aren’t much different at that point in their careers.
          Also I don’t exactly agree with “since Danny was on a weak team his numbers should be better”…if he was on a weaker team wouldn’t he be guarded by the best defender on the other team every game, wouldn’t his assists be down since he was on a less talented team, wouldn’t his shooting percentage be worse since he would be the only focus of the other team and not have talent around him to give him more open looks, also wouldn’t his defensive numbers be down since he would have to guard the best player on the other team every night-pending if he played good defense and Danny did?
          In Baseball everyone claims some players aren’t as good as they appear when they are hidden in a lineup like the yankees, why is the opposite argument made by players in the NBA? The only numbers that should be worse for a player on a talented team are Points per game because he might not get as much touches…but PG is getting exactly as many as Danny was, just has to play a couple more minutes…
          I not bashing Paul George or anything, I would be happy if Paul George followed the lines of Danny, that means he would be putting up 25ppg next year.

  • lil-bang

    Jared I am a little frustrated/surprised by all of your comments on this ONE game. Pacers beat Miami by 13 at home, and also by 10 at home. Now Miami is playing their best ball and are on an 18 game win streak and they wax the Pacers and you’re calling game over. The Pacers haven’t been as consistent as the Heat all season, Pacers may be way behind them this week, but just a month ago it appeared to be the other way around.

    Yeah they got dominated here, and yes Heat will most likely have home court advantage in playoffs, but a 7 game series is alot different and it isn’t over until someone loses at home. Pacers are finally getting some spotlight and you throw a baby fit on the 5 for 5 like the Pacers just got romped by the Bobcats or something. I know the Pacers don’t have a good road record but Miami’s last loss on the road was in Indiana and they were 11-11. Pacers still have alot of time and games left to improve their play on the road. I don’t know if you had to write that article for ESPN right after the game but come on. It felt like there was no respect for the Pacers at all in that article (unless they left out ANYTHING postive you wrote about the Pacers), and it sounded like you were just another Miami fan on a comment section.

    PG got shut down, that’s going to happen against Lebron- also Lebron didn’t have a stellar night either (also last time they met PG went off)

    Wade had a night-but Stephenson still has alot to learn (This is the only issue I am worried about-but do you think Wade can stay up with Stephenson for 7 games?)

    Chalmers went off, when does that happen? Plus Hill didn’t look good which doesnt happen consistently, DJ closed the gap some
    Bosh went off, which he is capable, but not that capable-Hibbert didn’t get any of his own rebounds so his rebound # was down (haha)
    West has been unstoppable against the Heat-he makes up the ground that James and some of what Wade makes so for the Pacers to beat the Heat-Hill and Hibbert have to beat Chalmers and Bosh…which to me doesn’t sound so “implausible”
    Ray Allen is an X factor, but the Pacers have proven they can shut him down (I believe the stat is that Ray Allen has only went scoreless 3 times in his career, 2 times were against the Pacers this year…so for
    I like most of your articles Jared, but not these 2…

    • Jack Wright

      I stopped reading after I saw the 2 major errors in the first 2 sentences. Can we get someone to proofread these articles or something

    • Nik Petrovic

      lebron was on lance most of the game, wade switched onto PG mostly.

      wade ‘shutting down’ PG was disappointing, i am sure he will be thinking about that and be ready to post up the mighty midget next time.

      • lil-bang

        yeah I noticed that after I re-read it later. Was waiting for someone to pick that out, but then thought no one read it since it was so long…

  • Jack Wright

    Here’s the deal. We need to rattle off a little 6-game win streak, now. The schedule allows for it, and the next time a loss would be acceptable would be Sat, March 23 at the Bulls. If we aren’t able to win these next six, maybe we’re not as good as I thought.

  • Bob

    “Miami simply out-classed Indiana on both ends, clearly illustrating just how wide of a gap exists between the two teams when each is playing at its peak.”

    You really consider that our peak? Come on man we can do way better than that. Hill had his worse game of the year and Chalmers had the best game of his career. Bosh couldn’t miss. That game was a fluke and it says nothing about our team. Everyone is way overreacting.

    • Jack Wright

      yeah that was a dumb statement. Pacers lost at home to the extremely overrated Celtics two games before that. We’re not peaking at all. Not even close

  • ronskeet

    you pacers’ fans are delusional…first off the heat did commit more fouls than the pacers 29-23…second off you took them to six games last year when they didn’t have bosh…third paul george is not that great he’s improved but all that means is he’s a little worse than danny granger was last year…also the pacers have a losing road record so you’re going to beat miami at home somehow during the playoffs? won’t happen unless there’s an injury…and you’re correct bosh and chalmers may not shoot that well again, but battier won’t shoot that badly again either and lebron will have more than 13 points…oh and your bench is worse than the heat’s

    • lil-bang

      It only takes 1 win on the Road in a series to flip the tables. Both of these teams are dominant at home, so to think we’re delusional you just must another one of those arrogant Heat fans on a 19 game win streak high. The Heat were 11-11 when they had their last road loss(which was to the Pacers). If the Heat continue to play like this the rest of the year, and the Pacers don’t get some quality wins on the road by then, you can call us delusional if we are still confidentally saying the Pacers can beat the heat.

      The odds aren’t as good with Danny out, but to say there is no chance you must be concentrating on the result of one game and not the whole season.

    • Jack Wright

      I could give a sh*t what you think ronskeet. Pacers played like crap last week (with the exception of the game in Orlando). Heat have been looking unbeatable, but the short-term is always deceiving. We’ll be seeing you guys in the playoffs, and it’ll be a close series.

    • dwaink

      dudes….we’ve made it! heat fans are really scared :)

    • Nik Petrovic

      lol miami does not have a homecourt advantage- they have the worst fans in the NBA and their cheerleaders are mostly trannies. the advantage they get from the refs is just as bad on the road as it is at home.

      • lil-bang

        Yeah and one of those cheerleaders is dating Spolestra, haha

  • Petey’s Head

    JWade, living on extremes as always. This wasn’t so bad of a loss. The x-factors were Chalmers and Bosh. The Pacers were able to limit these guys in the two wins. Miami is stacked, obviously. But I’d rather lose by Bosh hitting mid long mid-range jumpers and Chalmers hitting threes. With that said, the turnovers were a joke. Paul George is always slightly aloof on the court. This game he was absolutely unfocused. Same with everybody.

    The biggest fail was on the offensive end. Offensive rebounding was non-existent. In the wins, the pacers generated more shots. In this game, they didn’t.

    I do think this win was a bit of fools gold for Miami. Of course, they are the most talented team in the league. But I don’t think this was pure domination. The Pacers were unfocused and didn’t compete.

    • Nik Petrovic

      agreed. if you look at other games during their streak this one bucked the trend. it was definitely more of the stars aligning for miami than anything the pacers did wrong (although the lack of offensive rebounding and abundance of turnovers did not help.) case in point, miami almost lost in philly tonight, they needed the refs to bail them out against orlando, beat cleveland only by 4 and charlotte only by 5, and went to 2OT against sacramento (all home games.) everyone seems to forget that at the end of 1OT vs SAC, lebron had a chance to hit the game winning layup and was REJECTED by salmons. chalmers/bosh could have had their magical shooting night against any of those teams, but instead the perfect storm hit when they played indy.