The Pacers have finally unlocked their defense

After playing very little defense to start the season, the Pacers have rallied to play some of the best defense they've played all year in their two most recent wins.
Mar 12, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Chet Holmgren (7) shoots a
Mar 12, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Chet Holmgren (7) shoots a / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Early in the season, when you thought of the Indiana Pacers you thought of breakneck offense. An offense that would get up and down the court faster than the defense could set up so they would get an easy bucket. The Pacers still have the highest-scoring offense in the league.

For the last two games, their offense hasn't been what's carried them to victories. It's been their defense. They held the Magic to just 97 points on Sunday and followed that up by allowing the Thunder to shoot just 43% on Tuesday night. Both were works of beauty.

The Thunder scored just 46 points in the first half on Tuesday and just 24 points in the fourth quarter. If it wasn't for a 41-point explosion in the third, they would have been blown out in this game. The Pacers buckled down and made sure they couldn't score the way they like to.

The Indiana Pacers protected the rim and limited threes in their two recent wins

Oklahoma City is the league's best three-point shooting team. They came into the game shooting 39% from deep. They also came into the game as the second-best shooting team period, only behind the Pacers. Oklahoma City shoots 49.9% from the field.

Indiana held them under both of those averages on Tuesday night. Myles Turner has done a phenomenal job protecting the rim in these last two road wins, blocking 10 shots. Getting Aaron Nesmith back from injury has been big too since he's the Pacers' best perimeter defender.

The Pacers are still 28th in defense so it's not like they are elite or anything. But if they can start being an average defensive team down the stretch, they can start rocketing up the standings and be dangerous in the playoffs. As things stand now, they are 6th in the East and just a half-game away from fifth.

Rick Carlisle is getting his team to buy in on defense more and it's resulting in wins. They have a tall order tonight as they play the Bulls on the second night of a back-to-back, but defense has to be key in that game too.