Saturday, December 7, 2013 at 8:30 PM ET at the AT&T Center
Game Preview: Pacers (17-2) at Spurs (15-3)
Scott Agness | December 4, 2013
On the first end of their seventh back-to-back of the season, the Indiana Pacers (17-2) are in San Antonio to play the Spurs (15-3), the most stable franchise in the past two decades. Since San Antonio drafted Hall of Famer Tim Duncan in 1997, the team has over 70 percent of its games.
San Antonio has been a dreadful place for Indiana to play. The Spurs have won each of the last 10 meetings, including 11 straight times on their home floor. Indiana’s last win in San Antonio was on Jan. 4, 2002. This season, the Spurs are 8-1 at the AT&T Center.
Saturday’s game will be the Spurs’ first since a two-point win over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday. The Spurs were in Mexico City and 90 minutes from tip-off against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday when a generator in the arena malfunctioned, causing a minor fire and smoke to fill the place. The conditions were considered unsuitable and the game was postponed. Coming off a 95-86 win in Utah, the Pacers are two days between games.
The Spurs’ core three – Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan – has been together since the 2002-03 season and they’re after their fourth title. Last season, they nearly beat the Miami Heat in six games for the NBA title. However, the Heat had made a stunning comeback in Game 6 and went on to win Game 7 and capture their second consecutive title. Like the Pacers, the how the Spurs' season ended is helping to fuel them this year.
12 players, including all five starters, are back from last year’s team. Neither one of their draft picks, Livio Jean-Charles (28) and Deshaun Thomas (58) of Fort Wayne, Ind., are currently on the team. In the offseason, they signed ex-Pacers forward Jeff Ayres (formerly Pendergraph) and sharpshooter Marco Belinelli, who has been the most accurate 3-point shooter in the league so far at 56 percent.
Many tabbed the Spurs to stay as one of the NBA’s elites and get back to the Finals. With the way they’ve started the season, there’s no reason to back off that belief. The Spurs won 13 of their first 14 games, which tied a record for the best start in franchise history. They are quietly disposing of teams.
They are the best passing team in the league, leading all teams with almost 25 assists per game. Though their point total is in the middle of the pack, they shoot at a high percentage (49 percent). Defending the paint is one of Indiana’s strengths, but is especially critical against this team. The Spurs have a strong inside and outside game, one of the top defenses in the league, and their bench players have contributed nicely. This should be the Pacers’ toughest match yet.
Pacers: Danny Granger (out, strained left calf), George Hill (day-to-day, sore left hip)
“It’s a great opportunity for our team to grow and compete against some of the better teams in the NBA.” – David West on the Pacers' upcoming weekend, with games in San Antonio on Saturday and Oklahoma City on Sunday
“I think it’s going well. It’s always tough managing all the habits when you’re on the road and you’re playing in these tough environments and there’s not a lot of practice time. Our guys have played well the first three games of the trip, even though we didn’t get the win in Portland. We’ve got two monster games coming up, with San Antonio and Oklahoma City — two of the best teams and two of the toughest buildings to play in.” – Frank Vogel on the road trip
“It does affect the work that you get in. We lost a practice day before of it. I’m sure guys are a little bit off cue with their sleeping patterns. I know I am. It’s just something that you have to manage. Part of the NBA lifestyle is that you’re going to have a trip or two like that each year that weather throws you off kilter. You’ve got to overcome it. There’s no excuses in this league.” – Vogel on the weather affecting their arrival in San Antonio
“They’re a fined-tuned machine, offensively. They’re still playing with great speed, force and athleticism.” – Vogel on San Antonio
“We’re at a point in our franchise where we expect to win every single game we play, no matter where it is or who we’re playing against. And that’s a fun thing to be a part of.” - Vogel
- George Hill and Ian Mahinmi were both drafted by the Spurs. Hill played with them from 2008-11 and was then traded on draft night for Kawhi Leonard. Mahinmi averaged 3.8 points and 1.9 rebounds in three seasons (2007-10) with San Antonio.
- Gregg Popovich, a Merrillville, Ind. native and the longest-tenured NBA head coach, is 12th on the NBA’s all-time wins list.
- Roy Hibbert has reached double figures in each of the last five games.
- The Spurs have an NBA-record 10 international players from seven countries on roster.
Nov. 23: Playing at home, the Pacers led the Spurs by four with 5:30 to play. From there, they missed their final 14 attempts as the Spurs closed the game on a 13-2 run and won, 104-97. Despite the rough ending, this was a much-improved effort from their 22-point whipping in San Antonio less than three weeks prior.
David West led the Pacers with 22 points and Paul George followed up his 37-point game two days earlier against the Hornets with 15. Against his former team, George Hill had 11 points and seven assists. Spurs guard Tony Parker and forward Tim Duncan were both sensational. Parker led all scorers with 33 points to go along with his 10 assists, while Duncan notched his usually double-double: 22 points and 17 rebounds. The Pacers had the rebounding advantage, which included 19 offensive boards, and they outscored the Spurs in second chance points, 17-6.
Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Brooke Olzendam (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: FM 107.5/AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Greg Rakestraw (studio host)