Sitting in 9th in the Eastern Conference with a 21-25 record, it’s been a disappointing season so far for the Indiana Pacers. Last year’s iteration of the team went 45-28 and although they were swept by the eventual-Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat in the first round of the playoff bubble last year, they seemed to be a team with a lot of promising young talent in players such as Domantas Sabonis (who missed the Bubble), Malcolm Brogdon, as well as the hopeful return-to-form of Victor Oladipo from a serious leg injury.
Fast forward to this season, the first under head coach Nate Bjorkgren after the firing of Nate McMillan at the end of last season. Oladipo is gone, traded first to Houston before ending up in Miami at the trade deadline, while forward TJ Warren, who made a splash in the Orlando Bubble with a 53-point performance against the 76ers, is out for the season with a stress fracture in his foot suffered in January. Sabonis, meanwhile, made the All Star Game for the second straight season and is averaging 20-11-6, but it hasn’t really translated into team success.
The Spurs have sputtered on this homestand thus far, going just 2-5 and barely keeping their heads above water in the ultra-competitive Western Conference playoff picture. They face a gauntlet on their way to the end of the regular season with more than a handful of match-ups against the best the NBA has to offer, and while this homestand hasn’t gone like they had hoped for, there’s still time to salvage it to an extent, starting tonight.
Indiana Pacers (21-25) vs. San Antonio Spurs (24-22)
April 3, 2021 | 8:00 PM CT
Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Lonnie Walker IV (wrist - OUT), Gorgui Dieng (OUT), Keita Bates-Diop (hamstring - OUT), Trey Lyles (ankle - day to day)
Pacers Injuries: TJ Warren (OUT), Domantas Sabonis (day to day), Jeremy Lamb (toe - day to day)
What to watch for
- The Pacers are on SEGABABA tonight, having played the Hornets in Indiana last night.
- Indiana forces 15.4 turnovers per game, the 3rd best mark in the league. The Spurs, meanwhile, average the fewest turnovers per game (10.8) and are set to lead the league in that category for the third straight season. They committed just 6 turnovers in their double OT loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
- Domantas Sabonis is once again have a career year, averaging a double-double for the 2nd consecutive season and earning his 2nd trip to the All Star Game in the process. Sabonis is currently dealing with a quad injury suffered against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night. Sabonis managed to finish that game, playing 35 minutes in the process, but he clearly wasn’t himself. This was especially true of his scoring, as he failed to score in double digits for just the 2nd time this season.
- Derrick White has found his groove during this homestand, especially from 3. It hasn’t been uncommon the last few games to hear Bill and Sean talk about how well he has shot from beyond the arc (42% on 25/59 shooting) since the homestand started including a career-high 7 3PM in the loss to Atlanta. It’s been an up and down season for White, but if he is finally starting to put it together, that can only mean good things for the Spurs.
- Patty Mills, a career 38.9% shooter from 3, went just 1/8 from behind the arc in the loss to the Hawks. Thankfully, those types of performances are rare for everyone’s favorite Aussie. A bounce-back game from Mills can only help.
- Jakob Poeltl has scored in double figures each of the last 5 games, by far his longest stretch this season. He has also finished with double-doubles in his last 3 games. He’ll be going up against a premier defender in Myles Turner tonight, a Defensive Player of the Year candidate who has blocked at least 3 shots in 29 games so far this season, including 12 games of 5 blocks or more.
For the Pacers fan’s perspective, please visit Indy Cornrows
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