Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Roy Hibbert, left, is the centre of attention on an Indian Pacers team that has reached the NBA Eastern Conference finals without the benefit of a superstar. They now face the trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh along with the rest of the defending champion Miami Heat.
Roy Hibbert, left, is the centre of attention on an Indian Pacers team that has reached the NBA Eastern Conference finals without the benefit of a superstar. They now face the trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh along with the rest of the defending champion Miami Heat.

Indiana Pacers game plan: team up to cool off the Heat

Without a superstar Indiana wins with contributions from everyone, writes Steve Dilbeck.

They are a team without a superstar. In truth, they have no go-to guy. Not a single player destined for the Hall of Fame.

They play in mid-market Indianapolis with little national, let alone international, fanfare. Most casual NBA followers would struggle to name more than two of their players. They are attacking the post-season without their best player.

Yet here the Indiana Pacers are, one of the last four play-off teams standing. Most figure this is the end of the line for the upstart Pacers, but not surprisingly, they have other things on their minds.

"We're not satisfied with where we're at," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "We feel like there's no ceiling on this team this year."

The Pacers met the Heat in the play-offs last year, too. They actually took a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semi-finals before LeBron James and the Miami Heat exerted their will on the way to the NBA title.

The Pacers have honed their defensive skills, become a tougher rebounding team, and seem more resilient.

It worked in dispatching the New York Knicks in six games, but the Heat are an entirely different animal, despite Vogel declaring they were "just the next team" standing in their way to their own NBA title.

James did not find this to be some simple coach-speak, and seemed astonished someone would speak of the Heat and its trio of superstars in James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, so lightly.

"I don't understand what he's saying," James said. "He said we're just another team in their way? We're a great team."

And the Pacers are what, exactly?

Yes, they are a team without Danny Granger, whose knee injury has kept him out of most of the season, but they have become much more than just some team missing its star. The Pacers led the league in rebounding, defensive field-goal percentage and defensive three-point percentage, while finishing second in fewest points allowed in the regular season. In the play-offs, it has only been more of the same.

"They have a hell of a defence," Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony said.

"They do a great job of controlling the paint, closing it down, making it tough for guys. You've got to give their guys credit, especially when they got a chance to set. [Centre] Roy Hibbert gets to sit in the paint, causes havoc."

Different Pacers have taken turns starring in the play-offs, much like the regular season.

They win because they do not have a superstar. Because they are a team.

"This is the most together group I've been a part of," one of those non-superstars, David West, said. "At some point every day, every guy speaks to every guy on this team ... We don't have any egos. We don't have any 'I' guys. We have a bunch of 'we' guys."

 

sports@thenational.ae

 

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Glenn Maxwell's knock that followed ensured Brendon McCullum's knock went in vain after his explosive half-century took Chennai Super Kings past the 200-mark. Ravindranath K / The National

All is well with Punjab as Maxwell and Miller seal win against Chennai

The Australian missed out on a century but his 95 runs, along with Miller's unbeaten half-century, ensured Kings XI scaled a mighty peak of a target in a hot first game of Abu Dhabi's double-header.

 Sunderland manager Gus Poyet protests during the Premier League match against Crystal Palace at The Stadium of Light in Sunderland, northeast England, on March 15, 2014. Ian MacNicol / AFP

Sunderland going out of Premier League with a grumble

Northeast club have underwhelmed during seven-year stay in the top flight

 Hamburg players leave the field after the match against Borussia Moenchengladbach on March 30, 2014. AFP

Hamburg the dinosaur’s time may be up in Bundesliga

Ever-present for 51 years in the German top-flight, Hamburg face the prospect of relegation, writes Ian Hawkey.

 At 105 kg, Gabrielle Garcia has dominated the world circuit and loves many things about being in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Garcia seeks fresh challenge in MMA after her jiu-jitsu domination

Brazilian prides being a lioness in the sport but feels she can shed 25kg weight to pursue her MMA debut aspirations.

 England's Jonathan Trott hits out during the ICC Champions Trophy semi final match against South Africa at The Oval cricket ground, London June 19, 2013. REUTERS/Philip Brown

England’s Jonathan Trott sidelined with stress-related illness again

Jonathan Trott is to take a second break from professional cricket because of his stress-related illness as England and Wales Cricket Board and Warwickshire confirmed he will stop playing with immediate effect.

 Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho looks on during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium on April 13, 2014 in Swansea, Wales. Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

‘That’s why we are a top club’ says Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech

Jose Mourinho’s men will temporarily claim the Premier League top spot if they beat Sunderland, leaving them in control of their own destiny in the title race ahead of a crucial trip to face Liverpool at Anfield on April 27.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National