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Pacers’ starters are controlling the conference finals

May 30, 2013, 1:52 PM EDT

Paul George, Roy Hibbert, David West

The Miami Heat have the best player in the world in LeBron James and two other top flight players in Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh anchoring what is rightfully considered one of the best starting lineups in the NBA.

And they’re getting their hats handed to them by the Indiana Pacers’ starting lineup.

The group of George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West, and Roy Hibbert has run roughshod over the vaunted Heat and is the main reason this series is tied (and why it should probably be 3-1 in the Pacers’ favor).

In the 4 conference finals games to this point, the Pacers’ starting five has posted an offensive efficiency of 120.0 and a defensive efficiency of 105.1. To put those numbers in perspective, during the regular season the Heat posted a league best offensive efficiency of 110.3 while boasting a stingy defensive efficiency of 100.5.

The Pacers’ starters, then, have turned those numbers on their head by holding the heat to 5 fewer points per 100 possessions while scoring nearly 20 points more per 100 possessions than the Heat allowed during the regular season.

These numbers are meaningful not just because they show the discrepancy in production between the Pacers’ starters and the counterpart lineups they’re facing, but because of how often they’re on the floor. Over the first four games of this series, the Pacers starters have shared the floor for 107 minutes, or an average of a 26.9 minutes per game.

Maximizing the time his starters share the floor is nothing new for Pacers’ coach Frank Vogel. Two seasons ago Vogel deployed his starters for 253 minutes longer than the 2nd most used lineup in the league. This season the Pacers’ starters trailed only the Oklahoma City Thunder’s starters as the lineup with the most minutes shared, boasting an incredible 1218 minutes together as a unit.

Moving forward, there aren’t many ways for the Heat to change this. Save for a possession here or there, Vogel has insisted on not adjusting his lineups to match up with the Heat’s smaller personnel groupings. He’s gone as far as having David West guard Shane Battier or Ray Allen over stretches of games in order to keep his unit intact. So unless one of Indiana’s starters gets into foul trouble, I don’t see Vogel voluntarily surrendering the advantage his starters have proven to have so far this series.

Of all the problems the Heat are having with the Pacers so far – and there are several – solving this one may be the hardest. Vogel seems to understand that his starters, as a unit and over the course of a game, will out produce most any other lineup the Heat can put on the floor and he seems intent on riding this advantage as hard as he can.

Maybe the Heat has an answer with their star studded cast. Maybe this is the game where all five players click and prove they really are the top unit. If they don’t, you shouldn’t be surprised, though.

This is nothing new for the Pacers. They’ve been doing it all year.

*Statistical support provided by

  1. emosnar - May 30, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Otherwise Pacers in 6 maybe 7.

  2. chargerdillon - May 30, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    It’s a great series, but anybody who thinks the Heat wont find a way to win it are out of their minds.

    The Pacers are a great team, and I love watching them, but the Heat are not losing the series.

    It took several minor injuries and James fouling out for the Pacers to pull off that last game. Bosh rolled his ankle, then James rolled his ankle, then James made a bonehead move and got ejected.

    Tell me this, what’s more rare the Heat losing a close game to a great team on the road, or Lebron getting ejected.

    Give the Pacers all the credit in the world for making it as hard as it is, the Heat are taking the series

    • stlouis1baseball - May 30, 2013 at 2:39 PM

      This is a great series to be sure.
      We can talk about minor injuries…Lebron finally getting a few fouls called on him…we can even talk about the horrendous officiating.
      That stated…let’s not forget where Miami would be without that shot at the buzzer game #1.
      I fully expect another hard fought game tonight. Go Pacers!

    • slowclyde86 - May 30, 2013 at 4:22 PM

      I agree—Pacers probably won’t even take the floor tonight, seeing how everything is already decided.

      Not sure what games you have been watching, but the Pacers have outplayed the Heat for much of this series. I would still bet on the Heat if I were inclined to put any money down, but please don’t act like this is a foregone conclusion. These teams, at this time, are very, very close.

      • kinggw - May 30, 2013 at 5:37 PM

        Outplayed, please. The Pacers have benefited from the officials calling ticky tack fouls on Miami. If the officials dont take players like Bosh out the game the Pacers will not win.

        There have been 16 quarters played in this series, the Pacers have won 5 of them. Might want to pump the brakes on the Pacers outplaying the Heat theory.

  3. gmsalpha - May 30, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    As long as the games aren’t repeats of game 3, I will certainly be glued to my television for the remainder of the series.

    The Pacers may not have any bonafide superstars, but they’ve been a lot of fun to watch. Paul George and Roy Hibbert have been amazing, especially. I didn’t think they’d score as many points as they have, based on their production in the regular season.

    It’s refreshing to see a team give the Heat fits, and the scary thing is that the Pacers are doing this without Danny Granger. Combine that with the fact that the Heat are an old team and the Knicks have financial issues (and are ancient), tells me that the Pacers are probably the new kings of the Eastern Conference.

  4. paulhargis53 - May 30, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    Pavers are playing without Granger too.

    Quit making excuses for the Heat. We heard the same crap last year when they had trouble closing out the Celtics.

    Maybe the Pacers are just that good.
    I’m tired of how when a marquee team loses its, minor injuries and fouls or refs.

    Games aren’t played on paper. Pacers got this.

  5. infectorman - May 30, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    The new BIG 3.
    The new Bigger and Better BIG 3.

    And they great part of it is, they didn’t have to have a Uber Bush League, Bubblegum Reality Show called The Decision and follow it up Nightclub party complete with Disco Balls and a bunch plastic Miami “Fans” dancing in a club atmosphere to make it happen.

  6. nomorsacbball - May 30, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    he wasn’t ejected. he fouled out. total difference. if the refs let them play, Indy wins. we’ll see

  7. kanemoney - May 30, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Here is my issue – the pacers barely won game 4, a game they should have blown out. The foul troubles of the heat, their outrageous rebounding advantage, and the foul calls…

    I like the idea of the underdog and I hate how soft the Heat can be, but I just don’t see it.

  8. stlouis1baseball - May 30, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    “So unless one of Indiana’s starters gets into foul trouble, I don’t see Vogel voluntarily surrendering the advantage his starters have proven to have so far this series.”

    With Lebron picking up his 7th foul on the hip check Tuesday night…
    You can count on the WWF referee’s…sorry…the NBA’s “officials” ensuring things get “evened out.”
    The unfortunate part (if you are a Pacers fan)…is things have been even. Horribly…horribly…even.

    Nevertheless…take this to the bank. We can check back tomorrow and you can call me Nostradamus.

  9. doubledown44 - May 30, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    I wouldn’t go as far as to say the Pacers “probably” should be up 3-1. It could have happened, but I think the series being tied 2-2 is perfect. Going into the respective games, I had strong feelings about the Heat winning games 1 and 3 and the Pacers winning 2 and 4. However, I have no feeling whatsoever about tonight and I can’t wait to see it.

    As for the commenters above who think the Pacers have no chance to win? That’s ridiculous. It has been a very evenly matched series to this point and if the Pacers win tonight, you have to love their chances of taking the whole thing. Plus, saying some injuries here and there by the Heat are why the Pacers won; well, injuries can still happen.

    • stlouis1baseball - May 30, 2013 at 5:09 PM

      The 3 – 1 thing comes from the Heat winning at the buzzer game one.
      Shouldn’t have happened.

      • kinggw - May 30, 2013 at 5:39 PM

        Your right because, it should have never went to overtime. People acting like the Heat dodged a bullet forget that it took a missed free throw by Allen, miracle 3 to force overtime and bad call on Wade to give the Pacers a one point lead.

  10. jbeagles23 - May 30, 2013 at 11:30 PM

    Nope pacers fans forget about the lucky shots their team has been hitting all series. But as shown tonight you rough Indy up at all and the can’t handle it. They’re fake tough

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