Jan 7, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (24) after scoring walks back to the bench with center Roy Hibbert (55) during a game against the Toronto Raptors at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Toronto 86-79. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana Pacers: Hibbert, George 1-2 in DPOY Ranks

As is universally understood amongst the NBA and its disciples, the Indiana Pacers own the best defense in the league.

Their defense is so good, in fact, it could be historic. Last season, Indiana stifled its opponents on the defensive end, holding them to a 90.7 points per game average.  This season, the Pacers’ defense is even more suffocating, which is scary.

Dec 31, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (17) and Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) battle for a rebound during the fourth quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers won 91-76. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 31, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (17) and Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) battle for a rebound during the fourth quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers won 91-76. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana currently allows 88.3 PPG, far beyond second-place Chicago (92.7 PPG), according to ESPN.com. What makes that clip more impressive is the blue and gold score 98.2 points per game on offense, a PPG differential of +9.9, also tops in the NBA.

Led by the defensive prowess of center Roy Hibbert and forward Paul George, both whom could be on their way to the 2014 NBA All-Star game in New Orleans, the Pacers allow their opposition to shoot just 40% from the field, including 32% from beyond the three-point arc. Both percentages lead the league, as Indiana holds the No. 1 spot in nearly every major statistical category on defense.

Excellent team defense comes from individuals doing their jobs. Hibbert and George are the two catalysts of the starting five for Indiana. Alas, it’s no surprise they sit in the top two spots for the Defensive Player of the Year Award.

In an ESPN Forecast at the midway point of the 2013-14 NBA season, a panel of voters currently have Hibbert winning DPoY, and it’s not even close. Hibbert had 40 first-place votes. In second place is his teammate and projected starter in the All-Star game: George. PG received four first-place votes.

Hibbert is second in the NBA in blocks per game with 2.6. He is the anchor of Indiana’s defense and a force to be reckoned with around the basket. The 7-2 center has mastered verticality, the motion of going straight up to defend an opponent’s shot.

On top of his 2.6 blocks, Hibbert does a great job of altering shots. Those plays don’t show up in the stat sheet, but certainly effect the opponent’s rhythm and timing on shot attempts.

The complete list of DPoy candidates can be found here.

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