Monday, March 31, 2014 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Preview: Pacers vs Spurs
Scott Agness | Updated: March 30, 2014, 7:15 p.m.
The hottest team in the NBA visits Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the only time this season on Monday night. The four-time NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs have won 17 consecutive games, the longest winning streak of the season by any team. They’ve been victorious on the road (6-0), at home (11-0), and against some of league’s top contenders (with wins over Miami, Portland, and Golden State).
The Spurs are the most consistent franchise over the last two decades. With Gregg Popovich coaching and Tim Duncan as the quiet leader, they have sprinted ahead of the Pacers for the best record in the league. Since the Spurs drafted Duncan in 1997 and Popovich took over as head coach, they’ve won at least 61 percent of their games each season.
What’s special about this team is that after all these successful seasons, they rarely take a night off. Even when select guys are held out, other guys take advantage of the opportunity and they have little drop off.
There’s a few Pacers connections now with the Spurs. Over the summer, Jim Boylen joined Popovich’s staff, and then Jeff Ayres (formerly Pendergraph) followed him down there. Ayres has a bigger role with San Antonio. He’s played in all but nine games this season (compared to 37 games all of last season), though he’s averaging just 2.9 points and 3.4 rebounds a game.
Indiana (52-22), meanwhile, will be back from a two-game road trip to Washington and Cleveland that didn’t go well at all. They lost both games, shot horribly, and were held to 78 and 76 points, respectively. Indiana's frustration is obvious as they are searching for answers. Guys in the locker room continue to stress the importance of getting back to playing together and righting the ship as a group.
The great news for the Blue and Gold is that once this game is over, they will be done with back-to-backs for the season. The second night of consecutive games, where the Pacers are 10-9, has been troublesome for the team all season long.
Entering Monday’s game, both the Pacers and Miami Heat have 22 losses on the season and the Pacers’ lead for the top seed in the East has fallen to just one game.
Pacers: Andrew Bynum (out, sore right knee), C.J. Watson (out, right hamstring strain)
Spurs: Matt Bonner (out, right calf strain), Aron Baynes (out, cracked rib)
“It really doesn’t matter who we’re playing right now. We got to find a way to play with an offensive rhythm.” – Frank Vogel
“We’re losing games at an alarming rate to teams that are inferior to us. And we can’t figure out a way to perform better. We can’t figure out a way to really draw it together. We’ve done what you do. We’ve had team meetings, we’ve had players-only meetings, we’ve had players and the coaches. We’re kind of just looking for answers right now.” – David West
“I don’t think playing at home is the medicine (we need). I think playing together and playing as a unit more than anything. I think playing at home has nothing to do with anything. We just have to play together and trust our teammates.” – Lance Stephenson on returning home
"He has a lot of experience. He's a great guy. He really commands the respect of the players quickly. They've enjoyed being around him and he really helps me. He gives me a guy to bounce things off of since I lost my two main assistants that were with me so long. His experience has been just really great for me." – Gregg Popovich on assistant Jim Boylen
- George Hill and Ian Mahinmi were both drafted by the Spurs. Hill, who still remains in close contact with a Spurs personnel, played with them from 2008-11 and was then dealt in a draft-night deal for Kawhi Leonard. Mahinmi, who has a home in San Antonio and was married there last summer, averaged 3.8 points and 1.9 rebounds in three seasons (2007-10) as a Spurs player.
- Gregg Popovich, a Merrillville, Ind. native and the longest-tenured NBA head coach, is ninth on the league’s all-time wins list.
December 7: The streak came to an end on the Pacers’ third stop of a five-game trip, a perfect 57th birthday game to team president Larry Bird. Indiana turned a 13-point deficit into a double figure lead, as large as 26 points, in a 111-100 victory in San Antonio, their first since Jan. 4, 2004. Beyond beating one of the top teams in the league, it was big to win on their home floor and to get the monkey off their back (11 straight losses in the series).
The Pacers used an 18-4 run in the second quarter to get back out in front, and outscored the Spurs by 30 in the middle two quarters. Every Indiana player that scored (seven) managed at least 12 points. Paul George had a game-high 29 points 8 on 9-of-14 shooting, David West tallied 20 and Lance Stephenson piled on 15. The Spurs were led in scoring by Kawhi Leonard, who had 18 and Manu Ginobili added 16. Tim Duncan was limited to 10 points.
Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana/NBA TV – 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), Bobby Slick Leonard (analyst), Michael Grady (studio host)
Limited seats remain for this exciting matchup. Find Tickets »