http://www.nba.com/pacers/news/foul-shots-leave-pleasant-aftertasteThis is a story about a boring topic, so maybe the story will be boring, too. It's crucial, though, to the Pacers' season. All of their seasons, in fact.
It's about foul shots, those interruptions to the flow of basketball games that don't inspire fans to get out of their seats unless it's to go to the restroom or the refrigerator. There's no drama in a player shooting an unguarded shot from 15 feet, but there are plenty of wins and losses in those attempts.
It's simple, really. To get to the foul line, you have to get fouled. And to get fouled you more than likely have to get the ball close to the basket, or at least get the defense off-balance. In other words, getting to the foul line means you're probably running good offense, with crisp ball movement, patience and savvy shot selection. Undisciplined teams that run up and down the court and fire up jumpers don't draw many fouls, nor do they win many games.
It applies to a team's defensive discipline, too. “Lazy” fouls resulting from stagnant feet will hurt a team just as much as taking bad shots.
The Pacers have shot 58 fewer foul shots than opponents this season, a stat that doesn't get talked about but has a lot to do with the 15-25 record they'll take into Friday's game against Detroit at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The simplified breakdown is that they've had 15 games in which they made more foul shots than the opponent, and are 9-6 in those. One of the exceptions came last Saturday in Philadelphia, when they outscored the 76ers 30-18 from the foul line while getting there a season-high 42 times, but lost. For that to happen, the 76ers – easily the NBA's worst 3-point shooting team – had to hit 11-of-24 attempts while the Pacers hit 4-of-18.