May 18, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Luis Scola (4) warms up before game one of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs vs the Miami Heat at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Luis Scola's Deficiencies Are Being Exposed in Eastern Conference Finals

Even after changing and shipping parts of its roster to other destinations last summer, Indiana’s bench remains a liability.

Luis Scola, the player Indiana gave up its 2014 first-round draft pick for has a -45 plus/minus during the 2014 playoffs. It ranks as the tenth worst point differential out of all postseason participants. He isn’t the only Indiana bench member on that list, however. Evan Turner has the fourth worst (-53), and Ian Mahinmi has the same differential as Scola.

At 6-foot-9, 240 pounds he does not have imposing size to overpower power forwards or quickness to go around them. His range stretches out to 20 feet but he hasn’t hit shots there accurately in months. He can’t protect the paint or rebound well. If I was Frank Vogel, I would consider going with Chris Copeland or Rasual Butler full time for the rest of the postseason. Both stretch the floor and can open up driving lanes for Lance Stephenson to create when he runs the bench unit.

They might not prove any better, but they can’t be any worse.

To see why, let’s take a look at Scola’s play during Game 2.

Luis Scola defense 1

Scola’s bad defense isn’t news. He has slow feet defending in space and a sieve in the post.

In the above clip, Scola sits back and waits on Dwyane Wade to make his move. But Wade slithers past him and Scola commits a foul. It seems trivial at the moment; putting Wade on the free throw line is more desirable than him at the rim, but fouls like this puts Indiana quicker in the bonus and pressure mounts on the starters to play safer on defense.

Scola is averaging 4.5 fouls per 36 minutes.

Luis Scola Defense vs Cole (1)

This is egregiously bad.

When this happened live, I expected more of a reaction from Twitter.  No one is surprised anymore, I guess.

Let’s get another angle.

Luis Scola defense vs cole

Not sure what that is but sure.

It isn’t just defense, however.

Scola is shooting 15-of-48 (31%) from the mid-range area in the playoffs. If he’s not making the 17-footer teams are giving up and getting steamrolled on defense, there’s little rationality in giving him minutes.

Luis Scola Mid Range 1

Here, we see Scola, after slipping a screen, catching a pass from Stephenson and missing a baseline jumper. He plays minimal minutes and needs to do something productive with it. He cannot miss shots like this.

It may be acceptable if he was close, but the ball barely hit iron. He didn’t shoot with any confidence and appears to be affected from the flying Birdman in his vision. A more confident shooter might be able to even draw a foul here.

Luis Scola Turnover

Here, Scola starts off with a weak screen before getting the ball on a pick and pop. You don’t  want to have him put the ball on the floor. Miami’s defense will eat him alive. Just see what happens.

I understand Vogel doesn’t want to give up the theoretical size advantage with Scola at power forward but with only five possible games remaining against Miami, change is needed.

Tags: Indiana Pacers Luis Scola

  • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

    I’ve been skeptical that Scola was an upgrade over Hansbrough since before “the struggle” started. He’s obviously a better shooter, but Hansbrough brings other things to the table.

    • Jack Wright

      Scola’s definitely smarter but you might be right. On the other hand, Scola’s a lot more likely than Hansbrough to give you that random 20 point game which could be crucial for us (and bad for you) down the stretch. That said, I can’t stand Scola right now.

      • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

        oh, definitely. If Scola’s shot is falling he presents some of the same challenges as David West, and that is what really gives Miami trouble.

      • Josh Boeke

        I agree. We always have a tendency to remember the past rosier than we appreciate the present. Hansbrough’s ceiling was a lot lower than Scola’s IMO, though it’s easy to imagine that Scola is just bad because he’s been playing so bad lately. He’s been getting some really good looks in the pick and roll in this series, none of the shots he’s taken have even been contested. If he hits those he’s a serious problem for Miami. I suppose we just have to hope he does.

  • Al Cook

    I’m glad someone wrote an article about Scola’s inefficiencies this postseason. I think he tries to give good effort on the defensive end, but he is too slow-footed defending the PnR and has trouble making the necessary rotations. It also hurts he can’t hit any of his midrange shots off the PnP on the offensive end.

    I don’t understand why Vogel doesn’t give Lavoy Allen or Chris Copeland a shot or least give guys like Scola a shorter leash. Lavoy takes similar midrange shots off the PnP like Scola, so you can pretty much run the same sets you usually run. More importantly, he’s also a pretty solid finisher around the rim, and is a much better rebounder/defender. Copeland’s D may not be much of an improvement compared to Scola, but at least having him out on the floor will allow better spacing for drives/matchups, etc. I doubt Vogel makes any major rotation adjustments, but with the depth the Pacers have, their bench should not be this inconsistent.

  • Christopher Vargas

    I have been screaming for Copeland allllll season not just the playoffs… Scola is washed up, way past his prime and he should not even have 1 min of PT from here on out the rest of the playoffs…thank you guy for finally writing a article that I have not seen yet this is way past due to make a change