This stat is going to haunt the Pacers all summer: Indiana’s starting lineup outscored the Miami Heat by 46 points in the Eastern Conference Finals, and all other lineups got outscored by 74 points.
That’s the difference in the series.
The starting-5 of George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West, and Roy Hibbert was better than any Miami lineup. But their bench was so bad that it wasn’t enough to win the series.
And the reason their bench was so bad is that they totally struck out in free agency last year.
- Signed guard Gerald Green. He was coming off a career-best season with the then-New Jersey Nets. But he never made an impact and his minutes declined as the season went along. He played 13 total minutes in the conference finals.
- Signed guard DJ Augustin. He only averaged 5 points per game, and his defensive rating was the worst on the team by far.
- Drafted forward Miles Plumlee. He didn’t play (55 minutes all year).
- Traded guards Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones for centre Ian Mahinmi. Mahinmi was Indiana’s best bench player. But even at the time the trade was ridiculed because the Pacers could have just signed Mahinmi as a free agent, they didn’t have to trade for him.
The Danny Granger injury is a factor in Indiana’s horrific bench performance. But even if he was healthy, that would have given them exactly one good bench player.
The Miami Heat proved last year that you don’t need a deep, 10-man rotation to win an NBA title. But even they had Mike Miller and Shane Battier.
Indiana was so, so close to beating Miami. If just one of these offseason moves worked out, we could be looking at Pacers-Spurs right now.
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