In the early stages of the NBA season, it’s incredibly easy to overreact and over analyze any given team’s performance. For example, the Philadelphia 76ers opened the season with two out of three wins over the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat. One could immediately crown the 76ers this year’s champions, and that individual would be out of their mind.
We know this. We know how it works. Everyone is excited for the beginning of the season and any one team or player that is performing at an excellent level, we immediately want to over analyze their performances and crown them with the highest respect.
For the Indiana Pacers, it’s been difficult not to do just that, as they have begun the season 6-0 and currently look like the best overall team in the league. Many wonder whether or not the Heat and Bulls should feel threatened. At this point, the Bulls aren’t relevant in this conversation just yet. The Heat, for one, should be a bit worried.
Indiana has had something this year that the Heat still do not have, and it could be the difference between a Miami “three-peat” and a Pacers Eastern Conference title. The Pacers have an incredible post presence.
Starting with David West, a savvy veteran, the Pacers have a guy that can score when needed and rebound at a high level. But, thus far, he hasn’t had to. The play of both Roy Hibbert and Paul George on the glass and in the paint has been nothing short of phenomenal. George, along with his 25.3 points and 7.2 assists, is also averaging 8.2 rebounds.
Hibbert, on the other hand, has lobbied himself for Defensive Player of the Year — and he’s got himself a case early on. Hibbert is averaging a solid 8.7 rebounds per game, but where he’s done his damage is when he’s been blocking shots. Hibbert has averaged 4.67 blocks per game early on, looking unstoppable in the post on defense.
The Heat have Chris Bosh and Chris Anderson as their top two post players outside of LeBron James, who will post up often as well. Between the two of them, they have only put up 9.9 rebounds per game. The Heat, as a team, are 30th in the league in rebounds. They’ve made a case early on that if a team can play physical enough with them and win the rebounding battle, they are beatable.
The Pacers can do both of these things. They’re one of the most physical teams in the NBA, coming in at 10th in total rebounding but are 1st in the NBA in points allowed — the league’s best defensive team.
I’m not saying the Pacers are a better team, but the Heat should definitely be taking notice of the Pacers and start working on their game plan to take them out come playoff time. Indiana is much better than they were last year, and last season they came up short in a game seven against the Heat with the Finals on the line. This season, anything could happen.