As the Indiana Pacers continue their strong season, their defense continues to keep them near the top of the Eastern Conference. The team as a whole has been preventing teams from scoring, and this will help guide them to a deep run in the NBA playoffs.
The All-Star Weekend is approaching, and the Pacers are currently sitting at third in the East with an impressive record of 31-20. The only teams that are ahead of them are the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat.
The Pacers are doing all of this despite the absence of one of their best players.
Danny Granger has yet to return to the team due to a knee injury. His high scoring and aggressive defense have not been missed, however, as other players have stepped up.
Paul George has basically taken over Granger's role on the team by playing well on both sides of the ball. His 17.8 points per game have been a great lift to a slower offense, but his defense has really shined this year. According to Basketball-Reference.com, George has the fifth highest defensive rating in the NBA, allowing just under 97 points per 100 possessions.
Another player who has been big defensively is Roy Hibbert. Although many have criticized his struggles of offense, his defensive skills have been a huge help to the team.
David West has also been a big boost to the defensive side of the ball. The veteran has become a true leader to the team, and younger players have looked up to him this season.
What is very impressive is that George, Hibbert and West are all in the top 10 for defensive rating in the NBA, according to Basketball-Reference.com. These three players have carried the team defensively, and have been able to contain some dangerous scorers throughout the year.
The two games against the Miami Heat up to this point have shown just how good the Pacers' defense has become.
In the two meetings against the Heat, they have allowed only 77 and 89 points respectively. Despite letting LeBron James and Dwyane Wade score, they were able to keep anyone else from making a big impact on either game.
It seems that the Pacers have found a formula to beating the Heat, which is something that no one else has done up to this point. If this can continue, the Pacers could give them trouble in the playoffs, and that could potentially lead to an appearance in the NBA Finals.
When a team holds their opponents to 90.2 points per game and only 41.9 percent shooting, it's pretty clear that they are a dominant defensive team. This defense will lead the Pacers to a deep run in this year's playoffs and could give them an opportunity to knock off the defending champions.
If they can find a way to improve their offense, they will become one of the most dangerous teams in the NBA.