Philadelphia 76ers vs. Indiana Pacers
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Philadelphia is coming off one of its strongest seasons in a long time. Leading the Eastern Conference with a record of 56-26, the 76ers are one of the strongest teams in the league and the favorite by many to make it to the NBA Finals. They are already down 1-0 to the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs, however. In the three times these teams met in the regular season, Philadelphia won every contest.
With an assist from IBM's data-mining program Advanced Scout, let's take a closer look at the regular season matchups between these two teams.
April 17, at Indiana: 76ers won 111-105
April 1, at Philadelphia: 76ers won 104-93
January 28, at Indiana: 76ers won 86-81
Miller Strong at Guard
Over the three games in the regular season, with Reggie Miller
on the floor the Pacers were outscored 187-196 (-9). But interesting patterns emerged when depending on whether Miller played the shooting guard or the small forward position.
The Pacers outplayed the 76ers when Miller played shooting guard. When Miller was moved to small forward, the Pacers' play suffered as they were outscored by the 76ers. With Miller at shooting guard, the Pacers outscored the 76ers 76-71 (+5) and shot 43% (27-of-63) from the field, compared to their overall shooting percentage against Philadelphia of 39% (97-of-243). Miller shot an impressive 75% (6-of-8) on two point shots and sunk 20% (1-of-5) of his three point attempts when playing the shooting guard position.
In contrast to this, when Miller was small forward, the Pacers were outscored by the 76ers 111-125 (-14). As a team, their field goal percentage also dropped slightly to 40% (38-of-95), while the 76ers shooting improved to 48% (46-of-95). Miller also shot worse at small forward, making only 39% (7-of-18) of his two point attempts and 23% (3-of-13) of his three point attempts.
The Pacers' play also depended on Miller's counterpart when he played either the shooting guard or small forward positions.
When Miller and Allen Iverson
of the 76ers were shooting guards, the Pacers were outscored 16-21 (-5). With this matchup the Pacers shot 31% (5-of-16), well below the 76ers more impressive 50% (7-of-14) performance.
When Miller and Aaron McKie
of the 76ers were shooting guards, the Pacers outscored the 76ers 40-35 (+5). Miller's field goal percentage was 63% (5-of-8). As a team, the Pacers shot 44% (16-of-36), a better percentage than the 76ers who shot 34% (13-of-38).
In contrast to the matchup of Miller and McKie at shooting guard, when these two players lined up as small forwards instead, a different pattern emerged. The Pacers were outscored 4-18 (-14). The Pacers shot only 29% (2-of-7), and the 76ers shot well at 67% (6-of-9).
When Miller and George Lynch
were small forwards, the Pacers outscored the 76ers 79-69 (+10). The Pacers shot 43% (28-of-65), and the 76ers matched this by shooting 42% (24-of-57).
George Lynch -- A possible "lynch pin"?
Not much went wrong for the 76ers during the regular season in their meetings against Indiana. They were able to outscore and outplay the Pacers with practically any lineup they put together. Yet a possible "linch pin" in their play occurred when Lynch was in the lineup. With Lynch on the floor, the 76ers were outscored by the Pacers 160-170 (-10) over the three regular season games. But the 76ers play differed greatly depending upon the position in the lineup that Lynch was playing.
When Lynch was small forward, the 76ers were soundly outscored 99-121 (-22). The 76ers shot only 37% (33-of-90) while the Pacers shot 46% (45-of-98). The 76ers improved dramatically when Lynch was moved to the power forward position. With Lynch at power forward, the 76ers outscored the Pacers 61-49 (+12), a swing of 34 points. Philadelphia's shooting improved to 45% (23-of-51) and the Pacers' shooting percentage dropped to 36% (16-of-45).