The San Antonio Spurs lost Monday night’s game against the Indiana Pacers 131-118 in a blowout after giving up 18 of 38 3-point shooting and 52 of 91 field goal shooting overall. While the Pacers’ hot shooting contributed significantly to the Spurs’ loss, the team also struggled on defense more than they have for most of the season, coming into the night as the 10th ranked defense but giving up a defensive rating of 132 before garbage time, according to Cleaning the Glass.
The reason for this is ironic, considering the Spurs’ history. For many seasons, the Spurs put a championship contender on the floor with two bigs. As the league shifted smaller, with many teams playing only one true big next to a larger wing, the Spurs were one of the last teams to make the shift.
Over the past few seasons, however, they have fully embraced this smaller style. However, in the game on Monday, the Spurs were handled by the Pacers’ two big lineup of Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. With both players being able to shoot the three, no matter which player the Spurs’ ace defender, Jakob Poeltl, was on, he was at risk of being forced to guard his man in space while the other Pacer big took his smaller defender to the rim.
The Pacers’ big duo combined for 43 points and 21 rebounds, and the Spurs never found an answer to the two big lineup throughout the game. An off-night on defense from Poeltl exacerbated this problem.
The Spurs do not have enough offensive talent this season to withstand a hot shooting night from an opponent that has a positional matchup over them. While the Pacers may appear to be a weaker team than the ones the Spurs have played closer over the past few weeks, “styles make fights,” as the saying goes, and the Pacers proved to have a style that the Spurs couldn’t stop on defense.
The two bright spots of the Spurs’ night was a hot first quarter from Dejounte Murray, in which he scored 14 points on six shots, including 3 of 3 from three-point range, and Thadeus Young, who continued to show a growing understanding of the Spurs schemes on both ends of the court.
The Spurs, who are currently 2-5 for the season, will be hosting the Dallas Mavericks at the AT&T center for their second matchup of the season on Wednesday.