By The Numbers: Defensively, the Pacers Are a Bad Mother (Shut Your Mouth)
Who’s up for another installment of the By The Numbers series? It’s been a while, but with 13 games left, it’s worth looking at some of the key metrics for your Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers’ .623 winning percentage has been good enough to give the Pacers the second best record in the Eastern Conference and the lead in the Central Division. It also guarantees their second winning season in a row and clinches their third straight playoff spot.
13, 9, 8
Thirteen is the number of games left in the season.
Nine is the combined number of Indiana wins and Atlanta Hawk losses needed for the Pacers to clinch homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Eight is the combined number of Pacer wins and Chicago Bull losses needed for the Pacers to clinch their first Central Division crown since 2004.
The Pacer offense has been the team’s Achilles Heel this season, but it is getting better. When the sun rose on New Year’s Day, this Indiana squad was averaging 98.6 points 100 possessions over their first 31 games. While that’s a perfectly fine number, if you’re checking your body temperature, it absolutely sucks as an offensive efficiency. It was 28th in the NBA, but it was also more than a point per 100 worse than the Pacers’ lowest offensive effort in their NBA history. (The previous low was 99.8, set by the 1984 edition.)
However, it has gotten better.
In the 38 games since the 2013 calendar year began, the Pacers have posted an efficiency of 103.6. This isn’t great. It’s 15th in the NBA over the almost-three-month period, and only about two-tenths of a point better than the NBA average. However, it’s a huge improvement, and close to good enough when paired with the next couple of numbers.
The Indiana Pacers have been the best defense in the entire league, statistically, for virtually the entire season. At 95.3, they are two full points per 100 possessions better than #2 Memphis, and 7.6 points per 100 better than the league average.
None are better.
Zero is the number of Pacer teams in the franchise’s NBA history that have posted a better defensive efficiency. Coming into last night, the 2013 squad slightly trailed the 2004 squad by the tiniest of margins. And by “tiniest of margins,” I mean tiniest. The difference between the two units was one point. Not one point per 100 possessions, but one point over the course of the season, so far. Had the 2013 unit allowed one less point this season, they would have held the best.
Throttling Milwaukee last night gave them a 15-point cushion.
The metric that drives the Pacers success defensively is defensive effective FG % (DefeFG% – (FGM + 0.5 * 3FGM)/FGA). They are even more dominant in this category than they are in defensive efficiency.
None are better.
69.7% (2nd), 77.3% (1st)
Through last Saturday (March 16, 76 games), the Pacers had held their opponent below that opponents average Offensive Efficiency 46 times, or in 69.7% of their contests. Only Memphis had done better (50, 76.9%).
Over the same period, the Pacers forced their opponents to shoot below their average (based on eFG%) a whopping 51 times, or 77.3% of the time. That is unmatched in the NBA, with Chicago’s 70% being second best.
Decent chance that the Pacers have become #1 in both this week, as they’ve done both in all three games since Monday. In the process of pounding Cleveland, Orlando, and Milwaukee, Indiana allowed only 92.3 points per 100 and a .356 eFG%.
The Pacers have been blessed with the easiest schedule in the league through this morning, according to SoSHR. Earlier, we discussed the Pacers trying to make hay while the sun was shining with an easy March schedule. Well, they’re through the easy part, with only limited success.
Since that piece was published, Indiana has only gone 6-4. The positive is that they’ve gained on almost all of their competitors (1/2 game on the Knicks, one on Boston, two on Atlanta, and most importantly, three on Chicago). The negative is that it feels like they really blew opportunities. All three of their losses — at home to Boston and the Lakers, on the road at Philly — should have been winnable. To really capitalize, they should have gotten at least one, if not two of those games.
They may regret those losses as they come to probably the toughest stretch of their schedule.
Indiana plays the 6th toughest remaining schedule in the NBA. Not great news when you realize that all of their opponents have easier remaining schedules. They are going to have to pile up some quality wins over the last three-and-a-half weeks of the season, if they want to hold onto the #2 seed.
It begins tonight in Chicago. Making that quality win #1 will go along way towards securing the goals of the Central Division title and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.