Spurs vs. Pacers: Sort of Rested Spurs Host NBA’s Best
The San Antonio Spurs haven’t played a basketball game against adults since Monday night against the Hawks (they won a hard fought battle against some kiddos Tuesday). Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they’ll be completely rested when they host the Indiana Pacers Saturday night.
In case you missed it, the Spurs were prepping to play the Minnesota Timberwolves when a fire broke out thanks to a faulty generator and the game was postponed. It’ll be made up in Minnesota at a later date. The Spurs then tried to get on a plane to get back to San Antonio Wednesday night and long story short, they didn’t get back till after the sun came up on Thursday. So in the middle of what ended up being a week of rest, there was a weird international incident.
Now they host the Pacers, owners of the league’s best record at 17-2 and also the only group with a better defensive efficiency rating than the Spurs. Additionally, this is also the first time in a really long time the Indiana has had the better player in a match up against San Antonio. Paul George is on another level this early season. Averaging a career high in points, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, PER and steals, George is arguably a top five player in the league now. He just looks more polished this year and the stats back that up.
This is another early season test for Kawhi Leonard. I have no doubts that Leonard will make George work for every shot he takes, but will he test the Pacers’ defensive framework on the other end. If San Antonio is going to win, it’s crucial for Leonard and Danny Green to hit open shots when Tony Parker manages to get by George Hill and collapse the offense. It’s very easy to see this going the way of last week’s Oklahoma City game, where the Spurs played superb defense and could get shots to fall. As our own Matthew Tynan pointed out this morning, Leonard’s mid-range game and play around the basket has been excellent. It’d be nice to see him put it on the deck a little bit more, though George is going to make that difficult for him.
Yet again, the Spurs should have the scoring advantage off the bench. Indiana’s bench has improved, but they still only score just under 31 points a game. The trio of Manu Ginobili, Marco Belinelli and Boris Diaw averages alone. Don’t be surprised to see Ginobili and Belinelli early if Green and Leonard again struggle from outside.
The other match up that’s going to be a lot of fun is a really rested Tim Duncan vs. Roy Hibbert. The Jedi Master vs. his patawan, Batman vs. Robin, Shawn Michaels vs. HHH, whatever. They’ve worked out together the last few offseasons, and Hibbert’s offensive game has shown a lot of improvement in that time. So it’ll be fun to see if they make it a point to go at one another. A rested Tim Duncan is not to be trifled with.
Tip-off from the AT&T Center is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday night.