The Indiana Pacers have built a defensive system that is designed to at least slow down the likes of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Their personnel and scheme have meshed together to form the stingiest defense in the NBA this season and it’s the biggest reason why they have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Sure, the Pacers have athletic defenders on the perimeter in Paul George, Lance Stephenson and George Hill — all three will be expected to defend either James or Wade throughout this upcoming series — but the man in the middle is what makes their defense tick. Every opponent drive, pick-and-roll, etc., is funneled into Roy Hibbert who spends most of his time camped in or near the paint. The 7’2 center has developed into one of the best rim protectors in the league.
Unlike the New York Knicks, the Miami Heat employ a big who can stretch the floor with his jump-shooting, yet still offer enough height to defend Hibbert on the defensive end. Chris Bosh often gets lost outside of the spotlight of James and Wade, but his shooting will be crucial to Miami’s success against Indiana.
The 2013 playoffs have been the same story so far for Bosh — often taking a backseat to the brilliance of his superstar teammates. However, his shooting for a player his size hasn’t faltered. As James or Wade breaks down opposing defenses, Bosh is usually left open towards the top of the key or on the baseline, as opponents are willing to concede mid-range attempts in an effort to stop the other two from getting to the rim. It’s the exact same strategy Hibbert and the Pacers will use.
During the regular season, Bosh shot just over 50 percent on mid-range jumpers, a mark that was above league average. Against the Pacers specifically, he connected on 16 of his 30 mid-range attempts in three games, per Synergy Sports. Most of those attempts were wide-open looks as Hibbert was camped in the paint. For example, watch here as Hibbert lets Bosh casually dribble into an elbow jumper, a shot that Bosh is exceptional at.
Hibbert’s unwillingness to leave the basket area and Bosh’s ability to stretch the floor are a dangerous combination for the Pacers, especially if Bosh is able to consistently knock down the open looks he’s bound to get.
Brandon Curry is an NBA writer for Rant Sports. Follow Brandon on Twitter @ByBrandonCurry