Indiana Pacers swingman Paul George knows he can play his man tight on the perimeter. He can gamble a little more for steals because his backside is protected. Center Roy Hibbert knows he doesn’t have to worry about George being lazy on defense, allowing his man to beat him off the dribble like in years past. While some NBA teams have a defensive anchor in the middle without a good perimeter defender or vice versa, the Pacers have both. Hibbert anchors the league’s best defense in the middle and George is responsible for causing havoc on players like Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. “It makes your team tremendously better, especially in playoff time, to be able to have both,” ESPN analyst Bruce Bowen said. “One is not more important than the other. Playoffs are about getting stops, stopping team’s strengths. You want someone there who can kind of distract, disrupt a player’s drive to the basket. Then you have someone in the middle and the player has another degree of difficulty to overcome to try to score on.” There are only a few teams still in the playoffs — the Pacers host the New York Knicks in Game 3 on Saturday — able to say they have an excellent wing defender to go with a big man playing the final line of defense. Memphis has Tony Allen and Marc Gasol, who won Defensive Player of the Year. Oklahoma City has Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha. New York has Iman Shumpert and Tyson Chandler. And there’s Hibbert and George. “I’ve been on teams here where we’ve had guys who let their perimeter and post player go around them, expecting me to do all the work,” Hibbert said. “It’s a relief to have Paul be able to ‘D’ up, George (Hill) ‘D’ up. A lot of guys take pride in defense. I’d say for the first 21/2 years here, that wasn’t true. I was in foul trouble a lot.” The Pacers led the league in defensive field goal percentage and defensive 3-point percentage, and were second in points allowed during the regular season. “What you’re basically saying is we should be on the (All-)Defensive team at some point in time,” Hibbert said about him and George.
What is more important to the Pacers? Paul George's perimeter defense or Roy Hibbert at basket?
Indianapolis Star | May 11