Deep and well-coached, the Indiana Pacers pose a challenge for any team in the NBA. Can the San Antonio Spurs take the season series after splitting it last season?
One of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, the Indiana Pacers are solid from top to bottom. Much like the San Antonio Spurs, what they lake in star power they make up for in the depth of their roster and defensive intensity.
Much like the San Antonio, Indiana has always found a way to consistently tally up the wins. After trading Paul George away they were still able to put together a defense-minded team through smart moves in free agency and forward-thinking trades.
Even without their star Victor Oladipo for much of the season, the Pacers were still one of the toughest teams in the East. Interestingly enough the Pacers were able to come into San Antonio and steal a win at the AT&T Center last year. They split the season series with the Spurs by taking one in Texas and giving up a win at home later in the year.
Head coach Nate McMillan is one of the most underrated coaches in the league. His leadership, along with a few key roster additions, has elevated this teams potential ceiling to places it hasn’t been in years past.
Let’s take a look at the moves Indiana made this summer and how San Antonio can sweep the season series this time around.
Next: The 2019-2020 Indiana Pacers
The 2019-2020 Indiana Pacers
The NBA as a whole underwent a massive shakeup over the past few months. The Pacers were no exception. Their roster looks vastly different today than it did at the end of the season. They didn’t sign or trade for any superstars but they did make several smart moves. Indiana brought in several young players without getting any worse as a team.
The biggest acquisition was former Milwaukee Bucks guard, Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon, who signed a four-year deal with the Pacers, gives Oladipo the backcourt help he needs to help lead the team forward.
Brogdon was one of the most Bucks most important players over the past few years and will step into a similar role in Indiana. A 42.6 percent three-point shooter, Brogdon can play off the ball or initiate the offense when Oladipo needs a breather. A member of the illustrious 50-40-90 club, Brogdon is capable of lighting teams up on the right night. He’s also an excellent defender, capable of guarding guards and wing players.
Indiana also added some scoring power to its roster with the additions of T.J. Warren and Jeremy Lamb. Warren, who had spent his career with the Phoenix Suns up until this point, has scored close to 20 points per game over the past couple years. Warren’s scoring has been criticized as empty points on a bad team but he’s a good player who will finally be on a team with post-season aspirations. Lamb has taken serious steps forward the past two years and is a reliable deep threat.
The Pacers did lose Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovich but the players they brought in should make up for that. With Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis anchoring down the paint this Indiana group will still be dangerous enough to make both games tough wins for San Antonio. An exact date for Oladipo’s return has yet to be determined but won’t matter for the Spurs. Both games against the Pacers come late in the season. Providing all goes well the Spurs will be facing a full-strength Pacers team.
Now that we’ve covered the moves Indiana made and who San Antonio will be facing, let’s explore how the Spurs can win the season series.
Next: How to take down the Pacers
Taking down the Indiana Pacers
With their pair of guards and bigs, the Pacers pose an interesting challenge for the Spurs. Rudy Gay should be the starter for San Antonio on most nights but these two games may require Jakob Poeltl to step into the starting lineup.
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The most interesting matchup to watch will between the two backcourts. Dejounte Murray and Derrick White are an interesting counter to Oladipo and Brogdon. Murray has the length and athleticism to stay in front of Oladipo and White can mirror Brogdon well. As a player, Brogdon is an example of what White should aspire to. Brogdon’s ability to make up for his slower first step with a high IQ and excellent shooting is what the Spurs need White to become. The matchup between the two will give an interesting look at how White is matching up with a player he resembles.
The starting lineups between these two teams are evenly matched but San Antonio’s bench has a serious edge. The Spurs second unit should have no problem locking down the Pacers group. Indiana lacks stretch fours on their bench. If Gregg Popovich is able to exploit that by pairing Rudy Gay and DeMarre Carroll together in the second group that should be a winning strategy.
The games against the Pacers will come at a crucial time for San Antonio. The first comes in San Antonio on March 2nd, the second comes in Indianapolis on April 13th. The Western Conference is going to be a battleground this year. Playoff positioning will likely come down to the last few games. Winning or losing that second game in Indiana could ultimately be the difference between making the playoffs and ending up in the lottery for the Spurs.
The Indiana Pacers are deep and well-coached, these wins won’t come easy. The San Antonio Spurs will have to give it their all if they want to take down this team.