Bob Voulgaris, who has been described as the world’s best NBA gambler, went on Bill Simmons’ podcast last week and laid out a convincing theory for what’s going on with the Indiana Pacers.
He says the Pacers are simply burned out. Coach Frank Vogel plays his starting five too many minutes, and now those five guys are fatigued.
There have been all sorts theories (some wilder than others) for why the Pacers went into the tank after the All-Star break. This is probably the best one we’ve heard. It accounts for the way Indiana has looked in the last two months, and it’s backed up by stats.
Grantland’s Zach Lowe summed up what makes the Pacers collapse so tough to explain last week:
“The Pacers have been bad in an especially worrisome way. They haven’t slipped in one or two particular and easily identifiable areas; they have just gotten worse across the board, in ways that are hard to detect.”
He called them “a worse version of themselves.”
Fatigue seems like a plausible reason for a team to get worse all at once without changing how they play at all.
More than any other team in the league, the Pacers rely on their five-man starting unit to succeed.
Four of the five starters are in the top-60 in minutes played this year: Paul George (9th), Lance Stephenson (16th), David West (51st), and George Hill (59th). Roy Hibbert, who ranks 62nd in total minutes played, has fallen off a cliff.
Tim Donahue of 8points9seconds ran the numbers and found that the Pacers’ best five-man unit has played more minutes than the best five-man unit on any other the other contenders in 2013-14 … by far.
“What you see is that The Five of the Pacers have played — on average — almost 300 minutes more per player than the top 5 for Houston, who hold the second most minutes. That’s 10 30-minute player games per player. The difference becomes even more exaggerated (almost 700 minutes per player) when you compare to paragons of economy: Greg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs.”
Combine that workload with the wear and tear of a deep playoff run last year, and those five Pacers starters have logged more miles than any unit in the NBA in the last 10 months.
Indiana is 15-14 since the All-Star Break. Their offence, which was just ok even when they were destroying people, has turned into one of the worst in the league, slipping below 100 points per 100 possessions.
In his article about the nuts-and-bolts basketball issues that are responsible for the team’s poor results in early April, SB Nation’s Mike Prada pointed to “lackadaisical execution.” The Pacers were simply cutting corners (setting poor screens, settling for isolation over ball movement, etc.).
That’s a sign of a tired team.
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