The Pacers have been solid rising to challenges this year, save for about an eight minute stretch in Chicago earlier in the season. No challenge they've faced thus far will be greater than taking on the Spurs in San Antonio on Saturday night.
Patience and execution, a Spurs staple, will be critical on both sides with the two top defenses in the NBA clashing. According to NBA.com stats, the Pacers head into the game tops in the league with a 90.9 defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possession) with the Spurs checking in next with a 94.0 rating. So get to 90 with a chance to win and this game should be a doozy.
Both teams are dealing with some naggnig injuries. George Hill is listed as day-to-day with his usual hip injury, although I expect Hill to make every effort to be on the court against his former team.
Tiago Splitter is dealing with a calf injury and may not play tonight which could change the dynamic of the Spurs front line. Boris Diaw would start in Splitter's place which shrinks the Spurs front line a bit but also gives them an offensive threat to pass, score and spread the Pacers defense out more.
One factor favoring the Pacers is the date. Today, team pres Larry Bird turns 57 and we know there is only one suitable present for the man who has everything and loves to compete -- a W. Quite certain the team will be aware of this fact and put it on top of the pile of motivation that should carry into this game.
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