Not all was lost for the Pacers in San Antonio as they played well and found a way to hang around for the better part of three quarters. You could make the case that a couple more buckets with a couple of breaks and things may have been tight down the stretch. But in reality, the Spurs dictated how the game was played and even when thing were tight in the first half, had the Pacers teetering in an uncomfortable position.
The Spurs have their own version of pace and space which is better described as pace and pound. Sure they have the requisite "3 and D" guys to keep the floor spread and make opponents work, but they also have the bigs who are all willing passers and finishers inside. The ball is always on the move and they are happy to sling it inside to finish if the defense glances the wrong way for a second.
It makes it real difficult for any spread lineup (outside of the Bay Area...maybe) gain an advantage. The Pacers started with a big lineup against Tim Duncan and LaMarcus Aldridge but when they tried to go spread at times. San Antonio had success staying big with David West and Boris Diaw to make C.J. Miles guard in the deep post. Miles felt the pound when West and Diaw finished through him.
That might be worth the give-and-take if Miles could make 'em pay at the other end, but C.J.'s recent shooting slump continued which made him a problem at both ends of the floor. In fact, throw in Monta Ellis and Paul George and the trio that normally gives the offense a turbo boost instead sputtered badly. They had to work for good open looks and then struggled to make the open shots when given the opportunity.
Aside from wearing out teams, San Antonio's pace and pound can frustrate opponents into sealing their own fate and Paul George played extremely frustrated in the second half when his matchup with Kawhi Leonard turned into a drubbing. PG's 1-14 shooting night six turnovers will surely have him spending extra hours at the gym before the Pacers play the Kings on Wednesday.
Playing the Spurs on the road is always a test to see how the Pacers measure up against the elite at this point in the season. What we learned is that while the Pacers can certainly play better than they did on Monday night, they still have to get better.
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