Pacers on brink of eliminating Knicks thanks to Paul George’s defense
The Indiana Pacers are on the brink of eliminating the New York Knicks and moving to the Eastern Conference finals to most likely face the Miami Heat in a rematch of last season’s heated postseason series.
Because of the hype and glamour of New York City, it is easy to focus on the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith and how they have taken a big fall in their series with the Pacers.
However, focusing on them is not fair to the Pacers and more important is not the reason the Pacers are leading the series 3-1. The focus should be put on Paul George the new leader of the Pacers, and what he has done to give Indiana a 3-1 lead in the series.
In his third year in the league, George is showing his strength on the defensive end and confidence that is usually held by players must older than he is. Not only is George on a huge stage in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but he has to deal with the leagues scoring champion Anthony who up until now was enjoying his best season as a professional.
The entire season has turned on George’s ability to lockdown Anthony. That is the Pacers’ defensive scheme and game plan and thus far, after four games it has worked almost to perfection.
The once favored Knicks are now looking at one another and pointing fingers instead of looking at the Pacers and wondering what can they do to fix things.
This season George came into his own and out of the shadow of last season’s leading scorer on the team Danny Granger. George made his first appearance in an All Star Game as well.
However, his game during the playoffs has been taken to another level. Some have already given the Pacers the series win and are wondering how a likely rematch with Miami will be with George assigned to guard LeBron James.
George is confident in his defensive ability and believes he can matchup defensively against any other wing, point guard or shooting guard in the NBA. The numbers support his confidence.
Anthony has hit just 32% or 18 of his 57 shots with George guarding him in this series. He has not allowed Anthony to get time or much needed spacing due to his quickness and length.
Even though Anthony has one of the league’s quickest releases, it is easy to see he is rushing shots knowing the slight separation he has from George will only be momentary.
If any other Pacers guard Anthony, he is 20 for 36 or 56%. In game 4, with other Pacers guarding Anthony the Knick forward hit 5 of his 7 shots, but when George guarded him he hit just 4 of his 16 shots.
Not just George is causing problems for Anthony. The Pacers drop their big men lower into the paint to back up their perimeter players and David West, Ian Mahinmi and Roy Hibbert have cut off the driving lanes for Anthony.
The strength of the Pacers defense is shown in the lack of scoring on the Knicks part. During this series, the Knicks have averaged 98 points per every 100 possessions, which is nearly 11 points less than they scored for the same amount of possessions during the regular season.
The Pacers players and fans can thank George for his is defensive work but it does not jump there, George is leading Indiana in scoring with 17.8 points per game and averages 8 boards and 5 assists per game.