After having to come back in the final 2 minutes of Saturday’s game against the Orlando Magic, the Spurs now sit at 1-1 on their current 3-game homestand. They have been without LaMarcus Aldridge since returning home from the Rodeo Road Trip, a sore shoulder the main culprit in his absence. They will have a chance to finish this homestand with a 2-1 record tonight when they take on a gritty Pacers team that has its foundation in a tough defense that does everything well and an efficient offense that looks to get players involved, ranking 6th in assists per game (26.2) this season.
Indiana Pacers (36-24) versus San Antonio Spurs (25-33)
March 2, 2020 | 7:30 PM CT
Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: LaMarcus Aldridge (Shoulder - Day-to-Day), Jakob Poeltl (MCL Sprain — day to day)
Pacers Injuries: Jeremy Lamb (torn ACL — OUT), Edmond Sumner (OUT)
In what feels like the, “Year of the Zone,” Indiana joins the party
Turn on almost any game during the week and you’re sure to come across something that teams have used sparingly in the past over the course of this season: Zone defenses. According to an article by Marc Stein for the New York Times, usage of zone defenses is up 50 percent from last season according to data provided by Synergy Sports. The Spurs themselves have frequently gone to a zone at different points throughout games.
Long though of as a gimmicky trick to protect poor defenders, more and more teams are starting to join in the party. Indiana finally joined the party during the final loss of a 6-game losing streak, as highlighted by C. Cooper for the Pacers SB Nation affiliate Indy Cornrows. Since then, they’ve won 5 of their last 6 and have implemented more zone into their defensive schemes.
Beating a zone requires patience, purposeful ball movement, and precision. Flashes to the middle of the floor and movement that overloads a side are two of the most effective ways of attacking a zone defense. Look for these offensive principles to be on display when Indiana breaks their 3-2 look out.
Victor Oladipo is slowly working his way back from a devastating injury
Victor Oladipo appeared to be coming into his own last season as both a basketball player and as a leader before he suffered a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee that ended his season. Much of the reason for Indiana’s surprise success last year was because of Oladipo’s overall floor game and capabilities as a defensive player.
Making his return 371 days from when he suffered the injury in dramatic fashion, hitting a game-tying 3 at the end of regulation against the Chicago Bulls on January 29th, Oladipo’s game has, for the most part, been up and down. He has struggled with his shot and ball control, but has shown signs of slowly getting back to some semblance of the player he was before the injury. In a win over the Portland Trailblazers last week, Oladipo scored 15 points, including a 12-point 3rd quarter. He followed that up with 19 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers in their last game before making the trip to San Antonio:
Indiana has been able to find itself firmly in the middle of the Eastern Conference standings for much of the season. If they’re to be more than just a fun team that ends up being first round fodder for a team like the Celtics or the Raptors, they will need Oladipo to make his most recent performances the norm.
For the sake of the Spurs, let’s hope that consistency is just a little bit farther off for the young guard.
For the Pacers fan’s perspective, visit Indy Cornrows.
PtR’s Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.