Sputtering Pacers try to regroup against Spurs
INDIANAPOLIS — Two teams coming off losses will meet for the one and only time in Indianapolis this season on Monday night when the San Antonio Spurs square off against the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers (29-25) have lost three straight games after winning seven in a row. The latest loss was a 116-100 setback to the Milwaukee Bucks at home on Saturday night.
“We didn’t have the motor, for whatever reason,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan told The Indianapolis Star. “I thought they came out very aggressive, and we just could not get going. They pretty much did whatever they wanted.”
The Spurs (41-13) suffered a surprising 94-90 loss to the New York Knicks on Sunday afternoon in Madison Square Garden.
San Antonio has lost two in a row only twice this season and will try to avoid a third time against the Pacers.
Most teams struggle on the second night of a back-to-back, but not San Antonio. The Spurs are 8-1 this season in such games.
The Pacers have compiled a 20-8 home record this season but have dropped their last two at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Things don’t get any easier before the All-Star break for the Pacers. After playing the Spurs, they’ll face Cleveland and Washington on Wednesday and Thursday.
“We want to go into the break playing well,” Pacers swingman Paul George said. “We still have a chance to do so. Hopefully, everybody has a chance to clear their minds, and come back Monday ready to go.”
Pacers starting power forward Thaddeus Young has missed five straight games with a wrist injury. Indiana has missed his ability to guard power forwards with range, a description that clearly fits San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge, though he has been in a slump of late.
Young is listed as questionable for Monday’s game.
“I hold myself to a very standard,” Aldridge said. “That won’t change. I have to trust my work ethic and stay with it.”
Teammate Kawhi Leonard has scored 30 or more points in three straight games.
“The last stretch you have to stay mentally focused,” Leonard said after Sunday’s loss.
Leonard, a Western Conference All-Star starter, will be going toe-to-toe with George, an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve. Both are two of the best two-way players in the NBA and will make for an intriguing matchup all game long.
Pau Gasol is still out of action with a hand injury, but he’s getting closer to a return.
The teams have similar numbers on the offensive end. The Spurs are 10th in the NBA in points per game and the Pacers are 14th.
The defensive end is another story. The Spurs lead the NBA in defensive rating, and the Pacers are 14th in that statistic.
The Pacers defeated the Spurs on their home floor last season, but San Antonio had won seven straight in Indianapolis before that meeting.