With the Spurs facing the Indiana Pacers tonight in San Antonio, who better to go to than Jared Wade of Eight Points, Nine Seconds and Both Teams Played Hard to discuss the game.
Some of you might recognize Jared. He is a friend of Project Spurs, been on our live shows, is a member of The 8th Seed podcast along with Jeff and myself, and Jeff has written for him during the summer for his NBA logo project. Oh and he loves anything Arrested Development.
Here are his thoughts on tonight's game:
The Pacers are now 24 games into the season with a 9-15 record. Is this where you thought they'd be 1/4 of the way through the season?
Pretty much, yeah. I was hoping an early return from Mike Dunleavy, Jr. — who is and has been the engine of the team's offense whenever he's been healthy, would have had them closer to .500 — but this is around where they were expected to be record-wise. Unfortunately, just as MDJ was getting back (and he's still actually on a 24 to 28-minute per game limit due to his knee), Granger went down. With Murphy and Jeff Foster missing some games as well and Brandon Rush looking like a guy who should be playing in the Spaghetti Leagues of Italy at best, the 9-15 actually isn't that bad.
The Pacers have been considered an offensive team for the past few years — and they definitely have always and still do push the pace — but their inability to score has been their main problem this year.
It's just horrible to watch them try to put points on the board. They're shooting 43.4% so far this year and the only teams worse than that are Chicago, Charlotte and woeful New Jersey. Being that inefficient should be impossible in Jim O'Brien's offense, which generally gets players a ton of open jumpers. Some of it is just unexpected poor shooting but guys like Granger and Murphy (who has been hot in his last 5 games). The injuries and lineup inconsistency don't help either, of course. But more than anything, it's just been 24 games of stagnant, standing-around offense — which is something I imagine the old legs of the Spurs will have no trouble defending tonight.
T.J. Ford and Tony Parker are two of the fastest NBA point guards. Who has the upper hand tonight?
I hope you're kidding. The only Parker TJ might have an upper hand on is Eva. And even she could probably abuse him in the post. (In fairness to TJ, he has been pretty good in his last five games, putting up point totals of, in reverse-chronological order: 16, 15, 13, 12 and 10. And his 15 point, 13-assist game against the Bobcats on Wednesday was pretty impressive.)
What might Spurs fans be surprised to see out of the Pacers tonight?
Dahntay Jones being a factor for a team's offense. He was surprisingly good at getting the hoop and scoring early in the season. He has since predictably regressed back to closer to the player that Spurs fans were familiar with in Denver, but he's still averaging 13.9 ppg for the year — as put up a torrid 17.5 ppg in November. The other new thing about the Pacers this year is Roy Hibbert. He looks like a legitimate post force some nights, while looking lost and fouling constantly on others. I don't foresee one of his good nights against Timmy and the Spurs defense, but he's actually due for one of his 7-for-10 shooting nights for 18 points.
Do the Pacers even have a chance to win this game without Danny Granger? Who will have to step up and into his role for them to have a chance?
Chuck Person. Better as a Spur or Pacer?
Pacer. I grew up in Maine in the 80s and should have by all accounts been a Celtics fan. They were the best team in the league and all my friends and family were Cs fans. But I'm a contrarian by nature and, while I loved Bird and even McHale/Chief, I never really loved that team. Then the Pacers came to the Garden for a Playoff series once, The Rifleman dropped 7 threes and — most importantly — was in Larry's face talking junk and head-bobbing all night. Fell in love with him right then and by the time Reggie joined Chuck in bombing threes all night, I was hooked.
What do you view as the key matchup and which team has the edge in that matchup?
Duncan/Hibbert, I guess. And, yeah, Groundhog Day might hafta get the nod.
Pain. (For Pacers fans.)