It was yet another victory for the Indiana Pacers this season where they suffocated the opposition’s offense. Whether it was from deep or at the rim, virtually every shot the Atlanta Hawks attempted on Friday night was contested by a defender wearing yellow.
The Hawks shot a miserable 33 percent from the field, just 15 percent from three, and no one on the team was able to top 15 points.
Patience, power, precision, were all adjectives that could be used to describe the Pacers’ performance as they held the Hawks to just 73 points.
You could also use those three words when discussing Indiana’s veteran power forward, David West. West scored 21 points, grabbed eight boards and swatted four Atlanta shots in Game 6, but his impact went well beyond the box score.
Sure, West’s superb rim protection can be seen through those four blocks, but it was his expertise and timing on rotations that has not only keyed the Pacers’ defense all season long, but what made Atlanta’s night a struggle from the tip. Despite being just 6-foot-9 and lacking any kind of above-average jumping ability, West is excellent at defending the paint as he seems to be in the right place every trip down the floor.
The Pacers also lack a point guard that can break down defenses at an elite level, so they rely at times on West’s play-making ability around the free-throw line. He actually often initiates the Pacers’ sets and his versatility allows Roy Hibbert more space to operate near the rim.
West, 32, is by far the most seasoned starter for this current Indiana team and his presence has helped transform them into a serious contender in the Eastern conference. His skill on both ends of the floor and leadership are what makes them tick.
It hasn’t been obvious, but West has been Indiana’s most valuable player this season, even with Paul George’s breakout, award-winning year.
But on Friday night, as the Pacers eliminated the Hawks from the 2013 NBA Playoffs, it was clear who the team’s best player was.
Brandon Curry is an NBA writer for Rant Sports. Follow Brandon on Twitter @ByBrandonCurry