George Hill isn’t the only thing that the Indiana Pacers got from the San Antonio Spurs. Watch just a few offensive possessions at Conseco…I mean, Bankers Life Fieldhouse and you’ll see a lot of similarities to the Spurs offense.
Coach ‘Pop’ has gotten much luv the past few years for switching to more of a motion offense. It’s taken pressure off of Duncan, highlighted Parker/Ginobili, and also allowed for the role players to shine. With Danny Granger out for months rehabbing his knee, the Pacers have adopted a similar offense to help make up for the lost 20 points per game.
But Indiana didn’t just stop there.
Head coach Frank Vogel has even put in a lot of the same misdirection plays that are a trademark of Spurs basketball, particularly in ’crunchtime’. In Texas these days, Gary Neal and Danny Green are getting the same wide open three’s off of trick plays that Bruce Bowen and Brent Barry lived off last decade. Now, so are guys like Lance Stephenson and Gerald Green in Indiana.
The Pacers started this season with back-to-back nail-biters…a win at Toronto, a loss at Charlotte. Both games ended with George Hill and David West running a high pick n roll, letting the defense decide which poison to take. Well, in their latest buzzer-beating scenario, the Pacers beat the Lakers on a similar play. But this time, there was a subtle difference…..just before West went up high to play with Hill, he set a screen for Paul George to loop around and run to the opposite corner. That subtle play drew enough attention from Kobe and Dwight on the weak side to stall their efforts of helping on Hill’s drive. As a result, Howard had a nice basket view of the game-winning scoop shot as it nestled in the rim (of course, Pau Gasol’s ole helped too).
There was also a funny moment earlier in the game. David West hit an open jumper on a late Jordan Hill close-out…prompting Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni to yell “No Jordan, it’s a trap!” The Pacers ran another misdirection play to suck everyone in when all along they wanted an open West jumper on the wing. It worked just as well as their final play that night.
Indiana doesn’t play with the same pace as San Antonio these days…..the Pacers are 29th in scoring, after being 13th last year. They’re also 27th in overall pace this year (don’t ask me how that’s calculated, but it sounds about right). But their offense works, and will continue to work until they get their leading scorer back. They just have less offensive possessions than, say, a Mike D’Antoni team.
A lot of people are down on the Indiana Pacers without Granger. But I don’t see Danny as a superstar player the likes of Derrick Rose in Chicago. With their new offensive sets, and continued improvement from Paul George, I think Indiana can (and will) weather the storm.
Assuming they’re fully healthy come April, this group is still a contender in the East.