Skip to content

Pacers turn up defense in rout of Wizards

May 10, 2014, 12:12 AM EDT

Roy Hibbert, Paul George Roy Hibbert, Paul George

WASHINGTON – Late in the fourth quarter with the result in hand, Paul George made a 3-pointer in front of the Pacers bench. George turned his back to the court, took a step toward Indiana’s reserves and celebrated his rub-it-in dagger with a little shimmy.

An assistant coach popped up and literally pushed George back on defense.

The Pacers defended with unrelenting effort and execution in a 85-63 Game 3 win over the Wizards on Friday. By taking a 2-1 series lead, Indiana has won four of five, second only to the Heat among the NBA’s hottest teams.

The Pacers had never allowed so few points in a playoff game. The Wizards had never scored so few in any game.

This was complete and total defensive domination.

By quarter, the Pacers allowed 17, 16, 12 and 18 points. They held Washington to less than 33 percent shooting. And they forced 17 turnovers.

No team has scored so little and won a playoff game by so much in a decade. It happened just nine times prior in NBA history.

“This was probably the ugliest game of the postseason this far,” said George, who scored a game-high 23 points. “But this is our style of basketball.”

Asked the last time his team defended so well, Vogel looked down and smiled slightly.

“I don’t know. My emotions are so high, I’m having trouble thinking about it,” Vogel said after a pause. “…I don’t think we’ve ever been that far from where were tonight.

He has a point. During the Pacers’ late-season collapse, their top-rated defense fell all the way to… No. 1.

Even though the Pacers slipped on both ends of the court, they were so dominant early defensively, they had plenty of margin for error to still lead the league in defensive rating. Indiana’s offensive slippage is real. Its defensive dip might be random variance and/or a product of defending fewer possessions after makes.

That case is a lot easier to make when Roy Hibbert is playing well. After his potentially breakthrough Game 2, the Pacers center followed with 14 points on nine shots and three blocks. His focus is essential to Indiana defending well.

Friday, the Pacers had it, and their defense looked every bit as dominant  as it did early in the season.

Of course, the Wizards helped.

Stifled by Indiana’s brick wall early, Washington too easily settled for jumpers. The Wizards’ free-throw shooting – 11-of-21 – can’t be pinned on the Pacers, either.

Late in the third quarter, the Wizards hit rock bottom.

John Wall brought the ball upcourt and then immediately threw a pass to a trailing Drew Gooden, who was behind the halfcourt line – drawing a backcourt violation so painfully obvious, the referee seemingly needed a moment to collect himself before calling it. Then, Washington shot just 1-of-6 from the charity stripe to close the quarter.

Fans at the Wizards’ first home game this deep into the playoffs in nine years mixed supportive cheers and boos. By the end of the game, the only fans left with desire to make a sound were the boo birds.

Afterward, a reporter called the basketball “not picturesque.”

“You’re being kind,” Wittman interjected. “…This was a clunker for us. There’s no question about it.”

For the Pacers, it could be more. Hibbert seems back on track (for now at least), and after a cold start to the series, George is heating up. And most importantly, Indiana is defending like a team capable of making Miami sweat on at least one end of the court.

“We’re building habits,” George said.

The Pacers, who never led the Hawks series until it ended, have regained homecourt advantage. The Wizards, on the other hand, trail in a playoff series for the first time this year.

This will be a new challenge for a young Washington team. The Pacers’ burden comes more from within.

Right now, Indiana is winning its battle with itself.

  1. void96eater - May 10, 2014 at 12:19 AM

    This was expected. As I said earlier, Washington was going to split the first two games. How the series finishes depends heavily on game 4. If the Wizards lose it, it’s over. If they win, maybe they can carry the momentum to win the series in 6 (they will not win game 7 on the road).

    Only time will tell.

    • theebadguy - May 10, 2014 at 3:29 AM

      Captain obvious

  2. jasper36 - May 10, 2014 at 12:19 AM

    One of the worst games of the year!

    • metalhead65 - May 10, 2014 at 12:34 AM

      only if you are a wizards fan. as a Pacers fan I don’t care how they look as long as they win!

    • kb2408 - May 10, 2014 at 12:34 AM

      It’s called Eastern Conference basketball.

  3. kb2408 - May 10, 2014 at 12:39 AM

    Don’t look now but it appears that the Pacers are coming out of their funk. Those that criticized Bird for bringing in Bynum and disrupting team chemistry, give him credit now for sending him packing. Roy has been back to the old Roy ever since and the Pacers are beginning to look like the team we saw in the 1st half of the season.

    • antistratfordian - May 10, 2014 at 12:45 AM

      Both the Wizards and Pacers are garbage though, so I don’t think it matters.

      • asimonetti88 - May 10, 2014 at 12:58 AM

        The Wizards are most certainly not garbage. They won 44 games this year and outside of tonight’s game, have played tough, focused basketball in the playoffs. They beat a good Bulls team and have hung strong with the 57 win Pacers through 2 of 3 games. They have a great young PG and and emerging player in Beal, and a pretty good front court too. People keep acting like the Wizards are the luckiest team ever… they’re a solid team playing good basketball at the right time. Let’s start giving them credit where credit is due.

      • antistratfordian - May 10, 2014 at 1:37 AM

        I was being flippant. Obviously they’re not as bad as the worst teams in the league who are certainly garbage. But when it comes to their chances to advance to the finals, they might as well be the Bucks.

      • kb2408 - May 10, 2014 at 1:05 AM

        If the Pacers and Heat face off in the ECF, Indy will give them all they can handle and perhaps even more.

      • antistratfordian - May 10, 2014 at 1:29 AM

        Yeah, I don’t think so. It’s not 2013. Indy’s offense is almost non-existent – even more so than last year. That just isn’t going to be enough to challenge the Heat.

    • void96eater - May 10, 2014 at 7:24 AM

      Have to agree with Anti here. Even though this was a rout, the Pacers still couldn’t score beyond the 80s. Championship teams need to score, and the Pacers just can’t.

      The Heat are winning if they meet in the ECF.

      • asimonetti88 - May 10, 2014 at 12:56 PM

        defensive games like this also slow down the pace of the game, causing less possessions and in turn less chances to score, which means lower point totals. 2004 Pistons were in the bottom third of the NBA in offense, in large part because their tough defensive style slowed down games

    • obmig - May 10, 2014 at 8:06 AM

      No, they don’t look like that team. They still can’t score. It might be enough to get past the Wizards, but it will only be enough to lose to Miami in 5.

    • kinggw - May 10, 2014 at 12:23 PM

      You wish. The Pacers didn’t play well, the Wizards simply played worse. Indy will take credit for it, but their defense wasn’t great, Washington was missing open shots and layups. With the exception of Hibbert, no one had a great offensive game. Wall was getting into the lane at will.

      The last two Indy wins have been more of the Wiz dropping the ball, than the Pacers coming out of their funk.

  4. antistratfordian - May 10, 2014 at 12:45 AM

    People have been underestimating the importance of playoff experience in several series this year. They’ve forgotten how prone young talent is to doing unpredictable things when the pressure turns up.

    Getting to the Finals is a little like climbing Mount Everest. You don’t just go from Base Camp straight to the top. You have to acclimatize. So you have to go up to Camp 1, stay there a day, then back to Base Camp. Then go up to Camp 2, stay there a day, then back to Base Camp. Then go up to Camp 3, stay there a day, then back to Base Camp. Etc.

    Same thing for young teams in the playoffs.

    • pistolpete0903 - May 10, 2014 at 4:31 AM

      Couldn’t agree with you more.
      I said in one of my posts before that the Wizards back-court (though talented) lacks the experience as that of the Pacers (Stephenson though not a veteran has the invaluable experience of going through some tough series last year).
      The Wizards have the talent, just not the experience this year. Having said that, if they keep the starting 5 (Wall, Beal, Ariza, Nene and Gortat) and surround them with some good 3-pt. shooters, they should rival the Heat and Pacers next season.

  5. pacers24 - May 10, 2014 at 6:45 AM

    this clown antistratfordian is always trolling pacers stories. if you werent so concerned about them doing damage to your beloved heat then you wouldnt be reading and commenting on every story!

    pacers are slowly coming around and getting back to how they were playing early in season

    so i can see why you are getting nervous…

    • zoomy123 - May 10, 2014 at 9:39 AM

      You can’t be serious, lol. Indiana scored 85 points last night. And seven of those points came in garbage time from Luis Scola, who also hit a 3. Luis Scola has hit 7 3’s in his entire career. If you start deducting garbage time points, Indiana only scored 78 points and they shot a pedestrian 42% from the field. If Indiana goes up against Miami and has long stretches where they can’t score like they’ve had against Atlanta and Washington, they’re gonna get blown out pretty quickly.

      • pacers24 - May 10, 2014 at 11:01 AM

        Pacers averaged 91 ppg in last years ECF and gave the heat all they could handle (heat avg’d 95)

        Pacers averaged just 90 ppg vs the Knicks in the Semis last yr

        but hey lets figure out how many of those points actually count in your fantasy world haha

        bottom line is everyone knows pacers match up nicely vs heat….lets all just chill till the ECF rematch

      • zoomy123 - May 10, 2014 at 11:17 AM

        True, Miami averaged 95 points per game last year…but Dwyane Wade had a bumb knee. I think I should point out that Dwyane Wade is now 100% healthy. Plus, Miami averaged 94.33 points per game @ Indiana. You know how many points per game Indiana averaged? 95.33. So, while D-Wade had a bumb knee and Chris Bosh averaged just 11.4 points per game for the entire series, Indiana managed to score just 1 more point per game on their own home floor. And Indiana’s offense is arguably worse this year than last year.

  6. golfrangeman - May 10, 2014 at 7:04 AM

    @kb2408 I don’t know why you would say if the heat and pacers meet in the ECF. Your already on record as saying Brooklyn is going to “shock the world and beat the heat”

  7. davidly - May 10, 2014 at 8:06 AM

    Through ten playoff games, Indiana has scored only two fewer points this year than last. Last season’s games included outputs of 69 and 81 versus Atlanta and 79, 82, and 75 against New York. Yet somehow they managed to score 91 points per game against the Heat in seven games. I don’t see where the outlook has changed much, except that they got homecourt.

    • pacers24 - May 10, 2014 at 9:16 AM

      i love it when people come in here with actual facts! unlike some other posters (haters) I see a lot

    • kinggw - May 10, 2014 at 12:35 PM

      If you think last years version of the Pacers is the same is this year’s you’re kidding yourself. There is a reason why metalhead gave up on this team after game one of this series and some Pacers fans are finally coming out of the shadows.

      Last year they won games. This postseason, they only win when the other team doesn’t show up. I don’t like Indy, but i’m objective. If they played a good all around game, I’d give them credit for it but they didn’t. The Wiz didn’t show up and as bad as they played they were in it until the end of the 3rd quarter. A win is a win, but lets not act like they wore down the Wizards with precision execution.

      • davidly - May 10, 2014 at 12:57 PM

        So that’d be six of ten playoff games wherein the competition just gave the game away?

      • davidly - May 10, 2014 at 12:59 PM

        Plus, you competely ignore the facts in my comment. Their scoring is from last year to this year’s playoffs is nearly identical.

  8. obmig - May 10, 2014 at 8:08 AM

    All that offseason improvement on Wall’s jumper has suddenly been forgotten. Not the only reason they are losing but when he’s throwing up bricks from 14 feet consistently they can back off him and he can’t get in the lane and make the d collapse.

  9. timcast12 - May 10, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    Seems like everyone forgets how well Pacers and Heat play against each other.. Even during the slump they had they still were able to beat the Heat. They will win the ECF. Bye bye Heat

    • miamatt - May 10, 2014 at 9:30 AM

      They also got blown out by a Heat team missing Dwayne Wade during that slump. If you are gonna pretend that one game means something, you ought to include the other.

      Really, though, what happened in the regular season will have no bearing should they meet in the ECF.

      What will matter is the Heat having 3 of the best 4 players in the series, including the best by far.

  10. jbeagles23 - May 10, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    The heat already won the east

  11. uscoach - May 10, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    And finally we have people watching our team and we are so bad.

  12. newyorkball82 - May 10, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    And Miami is just a scoring machine right now…. Hahaha

  13. newyorkball82 - May 10, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    Heat fans hate when people “troll” their boards but here they are, trying to talk about how much they are gonna dominate Indiana. Trying to spout out stats and talk about “garbage time” points. If I recall they’ve only one two games and aren’t in the ECF’s yet…

    • pacersfan1 - May 11, 2014 at 7:49 PM

      Just like fake heat fans. Maybe you should take your bandwagon and worry about the nets first. Newyorkball you hit what a heat fan is perfectly.

  14. newyorkball82 - May 10, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    *won

  15. newyorkball82 - May 10, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    @zoomy123

    Also if you think Dwayne Wade is 100% you are delusional. How can you go from having to sit out almost 30 games to this season to 100%?

    • kinggw - May 10, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      He sat out 30 games so that he would be near 100% for the playoffs.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (3412)
  2. L. James (2689)
  3. D. Ferry (2633)
  4. K. Irving (2514)
  5. J. Valanciunas (2434)
  1. K. Bryant (2366)
  2. P. George (2142)
  3. R. Rondo (1860)
  4. N. Batum (1854)
  5. R. Gay (1847)