The San Antonio Spurs (35-14) return to action tonight as they return for a brief home game to host the Indiana Pacers. The Spurs are the hottest team in the NBA as they currently hold yet another six game winning streak in this season.
The Spurs just completed a flawless streak of five games in six nights, but as our own Trevor Zickgraf wrote recently, the month of April will not be kind to the Spurs as far as scheduling goes.
With the Pacers arriving in town, one of Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s “favorite” players returns to the Alamo city, as former Spurs guard George Hill returns to where he was drafted a few years ago, and traded to his home state of Indiana last summer.
Aside from acquiring Hill, the Pacers have made quite a few moves both before and during the season. The Pacers signed former New Orleans Hornets big man David West, they traded for Toronto’s Leandro Barbosa, and some of their own young players like Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, and Paul George have started to become rising stars themselves.
The Pacers are currently ranked 5th in the Eastern conference and are 6-4 in their last 10 games. One of their most notable recent wins was their defeat of the Miami Heat.
Case No. 50: Indiana Pacers (30-20)
Road record: 14-13.
- Danny Granger – 17.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 14.9 FGA (40%), 5.1 3PT FGA (35%), 4.9 FTA (86%)
- Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson will have to be ready for Granger as he’s both an outside shooter and player who can drive to the basket.
- Roy Hibbert – 12.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 10.5 FGA (49%). In the offseason, Hibbert worked out with Tim Duncan, so it’ll be fun to watch the semi-mentor vs. apprentice matchup in the paint. By the way, Duncan is averaging a quiet 17 points and 10 rebounds in his last 10 games. That’s kind of scary for opposing teams who think he’s heading toward the end of the tunnel of his basketball career.
- Paul George – 12.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 9.9 FGA (45%), 3.8 3PT FGA (40%)
- David West – 12 points, 6.8 rebounds, 10.5 FGA (47%)
- Darren Collison – 10.7 points, 4.8 assists, 9.1 FGA (43%)
Tyler Hansbrough – 9.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 7.3 FGA (42%)
George Hill – 9.4 points, 1 steal, 7.2 FGA (46%), 2.7 3PT FGA (40%)
Hill was hurt for the majority of February but has returned to the Hill of old now that he’s back and getting healthy. Aside from his scoring dropping a few points, the rest of his numbers are similar to those when he was with the Spurs. The interesting part about the Pacers having Hill is that Hill has all of the Spurs’ “corporate knowledge” as he had been an important part of the team before being traded for the rights to Leonard.
Leandro Barbosa – 7 points, 7 FGA (37%)
Offense vs. Offense
- 1. Points: Spurs (101.2) – Pacers (96.1) = Spurs
- 2. Assists: Spurs (22.6) – Pacers (18.2) = Spurs
- 3. Shooting percentage: Spurs (46.8%) – Pacers (43.5%) = Spurs
- 4. Three point shooting percentage: Spurs (39%) – Pacers (37%) = Spurs
- 5. Free throw attempts: Spurs (21.1) – Pacers (26.1) = Pacers
- 6. Turnovers: Spurs (12.9) – Pacers (13.5) = Spurs
Offensive Leader: Spurs 5-1
Defense vs. Defense
- 1. Opponent scoring: Spurs (96.4) – Pacers (93.3) = Pacers
- 2. Opponent shooting: Spurs (45%) – Pacers (43%) = Pacers
- 3. Rebounds: Spurs (42.6) – Pacers (43.3) = Pacers
- 4. Personal Fouls: Spurs (17.3) – Pacers (21.9) = Spurs
Defensive Leader: Pacers 3-1
Looking at this game from the numbers, it’s clear this is a game of one dynamic offense (Spurs) against a very consistent defense (Pacers). The most difficult part for the Pacers will be trying to figure out a way to beat the depth of the Spurs. During their six game winning streak, the Spurs have won games by either winning low-scoring, grind-it-out games in the 80s, or have won high-scoring offensive affairs like when they scored 117 points against Sacramento in regulation Wednesday night.
If the Pacers don’t get a big night from Granger, Hill, and either Hibbert or West, then the Spurs’ depth will simply be too much for them for 48-minutes. Not to mention, the Pacers are one game over .500 on the road, the Spurs have only lost four home games all season.
This will be an interesting game for about three to four quarters, but I feel the Spurs will be able to pull away late because they simply have too many weapons at every position right now.