Game 52: Spurs vs. Pacers preview

By FanSided Staff

The San Antonio Spurs (31-20) return to the hardwood tonight, to take on the Indiana Pacers (18-34) at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.  The game starts at 7/6 Central and can be seen on Fox Sports Southwest.

Season Series:  Dec. 19, San Antonio 100, Indiana 99 at the AT&T Center.  This is the last time these teams will meet this season.

Current Trends:  The Spurs come into this game winners of 5 of their last 10 games overall and 6 of their last 10 road games.  Meanwhile, the Pacers have lost 6 of their last 10 overall, but have won 5 of their last 10 home games.  The Pacers are 0-5 vs. the Southwest Division this year.

Notable players:  The Pacers leading scorer is Danny Granger at 22.4 points per game.  Troy Murphy is 2nd on the team in points at 14 per game, while also grabbing almost 10 rebounds per contest.  The Spurs are lead by Tim Duncan at 19.4 points per game.  Antonio McDyess has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in 3 of his last 4 games.

Injuries:  Jeff Foster (lower back), Tyler Hansbrough (inner ear infection) and A.J. Price (concussion) are out for the Pacers.  Tony Parker (hip) most likely will not play for the Spurs.

As recently as 2004 the Indiana Pacers and the San Antonio Spurs shared a lot of similarities.  Both were well run, successful former ABA franchises and while the Spurs had won 2 NBA titles at that point, heading into the 2004 NBA playoffs it certainly appeared the Pacers were about to breakthrough for their first championship.  Since then though, everything bad that could possibly happen to the Pacers has, leaving the Pacer fans desperate for anything to cheer for:

Out of the playoffs since 2006, the Pacers are in a state of rebuilding with some solid young players like Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert.  Troy Murphy has played really well for this team providing rebounds and secondary scoring.  However, the Pacers are a poor defensive team that gives up 104 points per game, including allowing over 100 points in 36 of their 52 games.

Current Pacer Mike Dunleavy Jr. showing off his defensive skills

They also are not a very deep team with the bench mostly comprising of young, unproven players.  Last time these two teams played, the Spurs overcame a 13 point to win 100-99, dominating the 4th quarter.  If the Spurs can control the pace of the game and not get into an up and down, fast break oriented contest, they should be able to pull away.  The Spurs front court must also do a better job, in the last meeting Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy and Roy Hibbert combined for 52 points and shot over 50 percent from the floor.

There have been some rumblings about team chemistry recently and this will be an interesting test for the Spurs as Indiana has knocked off a few decent teams at home.  All 6 of their wins against .500 or better teams have come at the Conseco Fieldhouse.  The Spurs, however, are the best in the league at beating teams with losing records and will be well rested coming into this contest.

Forecast: 40 percent chance of Theo Ratliff.  I expect the Spurs to win this game, but the Pacers play hard so it probably won’t be enough of a blowout for him to get off the bench.