The San Antonio Spurs are back in the win column after an exciting victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, and fittingly there’s been much rejoicing, but it’s back to work for this team as they continue to work their way back towards .500.
Stirring as the victory was, the fact remains that it was only the second win of the year for a Spurs squad that started with a rough opening schedule. But now the schedule lightens up a little with contests against the Magic, Thunder, and the Rick Carlisle coached Pacers.
And while the Pacers are currently pitching camp at the very bottom of the Eastern Conference, they are (at least on paper) a much tougher out than the similarly 1-7 Orlando Pacers.
Like the Spurs, the Pacers were gifted a rough opening schedule, with every team holding a winning record except for the 3-3 Brooklyn Nets. And like the Spurs, the Pacers have largely been keeping things close, as one would expect of a Carlisle coached team.
Of course, Rick Carlisle has already established himself as a Spurs nemesis during his time in Dallas, memorably taking even the 2013-2014 Beautiful Game Spurs all the way to a seventh game in that opening postseason round.
Even with players otherwise regarded as spare parts by the rest of the NBA, Carlisle has regularly had success, and with players like Domantas Sabonis, Malcom Brogdon, Caris Lavert, and Myles Turner on the roster, it’s likely only a matter of time before he figures out his rotations and rights the ship.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, you can find the Pacers right next to the Spurs in most offensive categories, ranking just decimals below them in Offensive Rating and Points-Per-game, and just decimals above them in Effective Field Goal Percentage, Rebound Percentage, and 3-Point Percentage.
Which means, barring an offensive explosion from the Silver-and-Black, this game will be decided defensive disruption yet again. It’s a theme that’s likely to occur over and over this season, but one that these young Spurs seem capable of living up to.
I’d expect this one to be hard fought, considering the close margins that each of these teams have managed against conference contenders. Here’s to hoping for a repeat of Saturday night!
San Antonio Spurs (2-4) at Indiana Pacers (1-7)
November 1, 2021 | 6:00 PM CT
Watch: Bally Sports Southwest| Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Zach Collins - Out (Foot), Doug McDermott - Out (Knee)
Pacers Injuries: T.J. Warren - Out (Foot), Isiah Jackson - Day-to-Day (Hamstring), Malcom Brogdon - Day-to-Day (Hamstring)
What to watch for:
- The Emergence of Dejounte Murray: Soul Crushing Closer - If you haven’t already seen the clip of Dejounte Murray burying a back-breaking three over a fully extended Giannis Antetokounmpo, I highly recommend you take a look at it. It is so choice. And more importantly, it was not the only late-game dagger that Dejounte stuck into the opposition, with several clutch mid-range jumpers preceding it. It’s hard to predict this sort of thing as a regularity, but I’m willing to stick my neck out on this one after seeing the absolute confidence that Murray displayed while the game was still in question. Which is a fortunate thing considering Murray will likely be called on again late in this one. All I can say is enjoy the ride, because I suspect that this sort of thing might become regular enough that we end up taking it for granted.
- The Battle for Backup Center - Another interesting development from the last game was how serviceable Thad Young proved to be as small-ball center. Yes, it’s something he did well last year in Chicago, but he’d been struggling prior to Saturday’s game, and I was starting to feel pretty skeptical about his fit. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point-of-view), he was forced into action when Drew Eubanks proved an ineffective deterrent against Milwaukee’s length. The Pacers have a lot of length in the frontcourt as well, so it’s likely we’ll see a lot of Thad again in this one. Another performance of this level might further cut into Eubanks’s minutes, if not outright win Thad the role.
For the Pacers’ fans’ perspective, visit Indy Cornrows.
PtR’s Game thread 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.