In the Bonus: Focus on Pacers defense

In the Bonus: Focus on Pacers defense
March 1, 2014, 3:15 pm
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BOSTON — There's no disputing that the Indiana Pacers' defense has been the driving force behind their success this season.

Indiana ranks among the NBA's leaders in just about every meaningful statistical category defensively.

Fewest points allowed (91.1)?

They're first.

Lowest opponent field goal percentage (41.4)?

First.

Opponent field goal percentage in the paint (47.6), fewest opponent points from 3-point range (19.1)?

Yup.

They're tops in all those categories, too.

But if there was a time in which that defense is vulnerable, it would be now.

Although Indiana (44-13) has the league's best record, they have been anything but dominant lately.

While they have won four of their last six games, Indiana has relied more on their offense rather than what has been a defensive unit that has locked down teams most of this season.

Opponents have averaged 96.2 points against Indiana in the last six games which is a respectable 7th in the NBA during that time frame, but a clear notch down from what their scoring defense has accomplished most of this season.

Indiana has allowed 11.3 fast-break points per game which ranks third in the NBA. But in the last six games, opponents are getting 14 fast-break points per game which ranks a middle-of-the-pack 16th in the league.

A big part of the success teams have had of late against Indiana's defense has to do with rebounding.

This season, opponents have averaged 40.9 rebounds against the Pacers which is the fifth-lowest mark in the NBA.

But the last six games has seen that number spike to 44 per game which ranks 23rd in the league during that span.

Considering how dominant the Pacers were in starting the season with a 16-1 record, experiencing some slippage should not come as a surprise.

More often than not, it manifests itself on the defensive side of the floor.

Still, the Pacers continue to find ways to win which inches them closer to their goal of having the league's best record and with it, home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

But shoring up these recent holes defensively, remains a priority for Pacers head coach Frank Vogel.

"We've got to take care of our transition defense," Vogel told reporters recently. "Some teams have run on us, so they think they can continue to run on us. They're going to be mistaken when we do what we're supposed to do."

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