Indiana Pacers – Are Tired Legs the Problem? Statistics Say Yes

by Kent Sterling

Paul George's 23 year-old legs should be able to bounce back quickly with just a little rest.

Paul George’s 23 year-old legs should be able to bounce back quickly with just a little rest.

Legs provide the power.  Arms and hands serve as the guidance system.  That’s a very basic schematic for how a basketball is shot accurately.  When the legs are tired, arms and hands bridge the power gap, and precision suffers.

Strong legs are the key to making shots, and the Indiana Pacers have not made shots during the recent five losses in six games stretch.

During the preseason, the Pacers workouts were awesome.  I don’t use that word like a 12-year old for whom everything in the world is “awesome!”  The effort given throughout was almost game speed, and I was amazed.

Click here to follow Kent on Twitter

The first preseason game against the Bulls was a flat-out war.  It was a much better game with significantly improved effort than any I had seen from 2007-2011 when the majority of the fans who showed up for the games spent most of their time in the bars throughout the Fieldhouse instead of watching the “action.”

Nothing changed through the beginning of this season – hard work at practice, and tenacity in the games were the rule.  Off to a 33-7 start, the Pacers appeared to be the dominant team in the NBA who might just win the franchise its first ever NBA Championship.

And then the bottom fell out, or so fans thought.  Since the January 20th 102-94 win at Golden State, the Pacers are 19-16, but worse – they have lost five of their last six while scoring more than 78 points only during the lone win against the Miami Heat.

Fans are ascribing the fall to all sorts of extraneous stuff – the Danny Granger for Evan Turner trade, Andrew Bynum’s signing, Paul George’s appearance on Jimmy Kimmel, and Lance Stephenson’s all-star snub among them.

The truth is like much less interesting.  The endless work and passionate dedication to winning a championship has sapped the strength from the Pacers legs.  Including the preseason, the Pacers have already played 83 games, including 18 in March, during which there were five back-to-back games on consecutive nights.

Statistics bear the tired leg theory out.  From November 6th-15th, the Pacers went 5-0 against Chicago, Toronto, Brooklyn, Memphis, and Milwaukee (a stretch chosen because of similar opposition) by hitting 41.9%, 46.2%, 46.3%, 48.7%, and 50.6% of their shots.  That’s an average of 46.6% from the field.

During the last six games over the previous ten days from March 21st-31st, the Pacers went 1-5 against Memphis, Chicago, Miami, Washington, Cleveland, and San Antonio.  They hit 36.5%, 37%, 37%, 35.4%, 37.2%, and 37.7% from the field for an average of 36.8%

If you want a reason for the struggles the Pacers have endured, field goal percentage is the most profound factor.  Hit nearly 50%, and you win a lot of games.  Hit 36.8%, and get used to losing.

Even worse, the Pacers have allowed their opponents to hit 43.6% of their shots over the last six games, while restricting the victims during the five-game winning streak cited above to a field goal percentage of 39.3%.

Click here to get a great deal on the best hot tubs in Indiana from Hoosier and great guy Bob Dapper at Royal Spa


There is a lot that goes on to affect field goal percentage than legs – sharing the ball, setting good screens, making good decisions with the ball, and passing accurately to a shooter, but there is nothing like tired legs to simultaneously make all of those things difficult.

Paul George, David West, Luis Scola, and Roy Hibbert have played all 75 games, and even more importantly, all of these guys give an honest days work in practice and in their own workouts.

So is there hope that the Pacers will recapture their mojo, and ability to knock down shots?  Sure there is.  Remember the end of the 2012-2013 season when the Pacers limped into the playoffs, losers of five of their last six games.

The Pacers will not play another back-to-back through however long their run in the playoffs last.  Beginning with today’s day off, the Pacers will enjoy one, one, one, two, one, and two days off between games through the end of the regular season.  Four of their final seven games are against losing teams, and not just losing teams, but bad losing teams like Detroit, Atlanta, Milwaukee. and Orlando.

It’s a good bet the Pacers will get stronger throughout the remainder of the regular season, and continue to thrive in the postseason.  Whether that means they will be able to finally wrest home court from the Heat is what will likely determine their success in the Eastern Conference Finals.  At least I hope the series goes seven, if all the games are like the last Pacers/Heat war on March 26th.

If we knew the answer to how this will end, what fun would that be?  That’s why we watch.

5 thoughts on “Indiana Pacers – Are Tired Legs the Problem? Statistics Say Yes

  1. Dirk

    While I would like to see the Pacers right the ship I am not convinced it is legs or any other physical issue. I think the problem is between the ears and within the chest cavity. Consistently playing at a high level is hard and this group seems unable or unwilling put the team ahead of their own performance. The paltry assist totals are scary. Call it what however you want but this team doesn’t have confidence in one another. Nobody seems willing to cut without the ball and when they do the pass isn’t there. Turnovers are another huge problem. If your offense is anemic (as it has been the past month or so) you have to understand you cannot afford to give away 5-7 possessions a game on brain-fart turnovers.

    I hope you’re right Kent and they get this figured out. I’m a die-hard Pacers fan but this stretch is as bad as I’ve seen a Pacers team play in 20 years. You have to go back to pre-Larry Brown to find something this disappointing. Ignore the record, if not for the Bulls game in Indy this team is downright awful from a quality basketball perspective. Even the Heat victory was painful (although exciting).

    1. kentsterling Post author

      Agreed. I’ve seen a lot of tired teams, and this looks very much like one. I will disagree in one way – anyone who believes the Pacers aren’t trying or willing to do whatever is necessary to get this ship righted is mistaken. No one chooses to play poorly as a team. Tired legs result in poor movement and poor shooting, and just as was the case with the IU team in 2012-2013, when the legs went, the wins left too.

  2. Glenn

    I can buy the tired legs theory.. Remember early in the season when they shot a poor percentage, they still managed to win because they would hold their opponents to a lower shooting percentage.. When the legs are tired, one is not able to recover to the shooters as quickly.. I believe I noticed it when teams started hitting 3 point field goals at a pretty high average, a clear sign that the legs are tired.

    I am with you Dirk, I hope they can right the ship and I strongly feel they can, but they have to find a way to get at least a little confidence back and that will start with a quality win, hopefully over Detroit.

  3. Dirk

    24 assists and 10 turnovers vs Detroit tonight. Tired legs or not, this is the type of game we need to see! The ship is listing a little less tonight.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      I’m assigning all credit to the Rainman Dance I did on Breakfast with Kent this morning. The Pacer shot over 11% better tonight than they had in their any of their previous six games. While Paul George shot it 19 times, the other four starters shot either nine or ten times. Nice shot dispersal. Without any back-to-backs left, the legs will come back, and by the time the playoffs start, they will be ready to roll.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *