The consensus belief heading into the Eastern Conference finals was that the Indiana Pacers‘ featured the defensive chops to give the Miami Heat a run. They combine great perimeter defense with even better rim protection and created the league’s stiffest defense in the process.
On the other hand, many wondered if Indiana’s average-at-best offense would be able to keep up and give them a legit opportunity at upsetting the defending champions.
That question was answered on Friday night — at least for one game — as the Pacers put in one of their finer offensive outputs of this postseason, topping Miami 97-93.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, the Pacers posted an offensive rating of 116.6 in their Game 2 victory. To put that number in perspective, that mark would’ve led the NBA during the regular season by just over six points and is 15 points higher than Indiana’s 101.6 regular season average.
Now, obviously we are dealing with a one-game sample size and this doesn’t necessarily equate to continued success on the offensive end for the Pacers. However, Indiana was able to recognize cracks in Miami’s top-ten ranked defense as they tied the series 1-1.
While their size advantage is apparent, the Pacers have found new ways to make it even more effective against the smaller Heat. Roy Hibbert not only grabbed six offensive rebounds in the win, but he also was able to receive quality looks at the rim diving off pick-and-rolls, an action that the 7-foot-2 center doesn’t often use. Per Synergy Sports, Hibbert was 5-of-6 from the floor as the pick-and-roll roll man in Game 2. He used just 1.1 such possessions on average during the regular season.
The impressive offensive numbers from Game 2 continue, too: all five starters for the Pacers scored in double-digits on Friday night. Paul George connected on four of his seven attempts from outside the paint — a good sign for George as his jumper has been erratic all season — and Hibbert and David West each went 9-of-10 from the free throw line.
Things can surely change fast for both teams. Miami can make adjustments (they still have LeBron James, by the way) and the Pacers outside shooting can fall off (we’ve seen that happen before this year). But the positives for Indiana’s offense are currently outweighing the negatives through two games.
And that’s something that hasn’t often been true for the Pacers this season.
Brandon Curry is an NBA writer for Rant Sports. Follow Brandon on Twitter @ByBrandonCurry