Before the start of the 2009-10 season, all the Indiana Pacers could talk about was the new and improved defense, the focus on developing a defensive team mentality, the new defensive-minded signings who will instill that belief in the existing players...blah blah blah...
Well, 44 games into the season and the Pacers are giving up 104.2 points per game, good for sixth last in the league. From a strict numbers standpoint, the Pacers have improved defensively because they gave up 106.2 points per game last season, which was fifth worst in the NBA, but at least they scored 105.1 points down the other end.
This season, the Pacers are only averaging 99 points per game. The -5.2 point differential is the third worst in the league. So not only have they not improved much defensively, the Pacers have regressed significantly on the offensive end too.
While some of the blame must go to coach O'Brien, at the end of the day, it's the players who have to go out there and defend. Right now, there's no intimidation factor when opponents play the Pacers. They feel like (and they do) seem to slash into the lane whenever they want and put up shots without fear.
The recent drubbings at the hands of New York, Orlando and Miami are perfect examples.
Every single player will have to step up defensively if the Pacers even want to have a sniff of the playoffs. No one expects Mike Dunleavy Jr or Troy Murphy to be great defenders, so it's up to Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert to lead by example.