3 Reasons why Indiana Pacers pulled off surprising win over Miami Heat

With Tyrese Haliburton sidelined, the Indiana Pacers pulled off a shocking win over the Miami Heat on Saturday night.
Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Tyrese Haliburton, Bruce Brown, Myles Turner
Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Tyrese Haliburton, Bruce Brown, Myles Turner / Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Impressive defense

I'm just as surprised as you are. For a team that has been known for their lack of defense so far this season, the Pacers were very impressive on that side of the floor against Miami. Sure, some of it was due to Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro being out, but that shouldn't take much away from how good Indiana was on defense.

While Miami's shooting numbers aren't exactly bad and don't indicate much defense on Indiana's part, the play-by-play and eye test seems to disagree. Many of Indiana's runs this game were fueled by solid defensive pressure and forcing turnovers. Obi Toppin was at the forefront of this, finishing the game with four blocks and not only sparking Indiana's runs on the offensive end but doing his part on the other end, too.

Toppin also played fantastic defense on Jimmy Butler, by far and away the Heat's biggest offensive threat. On a night where Butler scored 33 points and shot 12/23 from the field, Toppin did the best job guarding him. Rick Carlisle employed the strategy of matching Butler's minutes with Toppin's and it paid dividends in the end, with Obi holding Butler to just 4/11 shooting, accounting for seven of his 11 misses on the night.

It is no secret how bad the Pacers have been on defense to start the season. Occasionally they will show flashes of defensive potential, such as the Detroit Pistons fourth quarter and tonight, but the key will be to keep it up for extended periods of time. Indiana clearly has capable defenders on the team in Bruce Brown, Myles Turner, and Andrew Nembhard just to name a few.

However, the key that Rick Carlisle needs to figure out is how to make these players feel locked in and how to make these defensive schemes work. While the defense on Saturday wasn't mind-blowing or anything (Miami shot 54% from the field and 48% from deep), it was the little things that kept the Heat at bay and allowed the Pacers to take advantage on offense, which is what they do best.