The Spurs showed some of their best form in their final set-up game against the Indiana Pacers, leading to a 118-111 victory that boosted confidence before the regular season restart. They were all disinterested on offense, turnovers were greatly reduced (just 12), and the effort was on defense as the Spurs recorded 8 steals and 8 blocks along with overall solid play on that end (at least of the players you expect).
Five Spurs scored in double figures, led by 23 points from Rudy Gay and 21 from Keldon Johnson. Myles Turner led six Pacers in double figures with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
- Welcome back, Bill Land and Sean Elliott! It’s nice to hear a couple of familiar sports voices again. This was also a good reminder of how solid the pairing is, as they didn’t seem to miss a beat despite announcing remotely from the AT&T Center.
- It seems that another approach the NBA has taken to make games feel more “authentic” is bringing the PA announcer to the “local” team (remotely or not). It was immediately obvious that they were announcing plays as if they were in Indiana: when the Pacers scored, it was announced “with enthusiasm”, while when the Spurs scored it was with that “reluctant acceptance” tone that the road team generally receives. The digital background displaying the Pacers logo and images the entire time was another dead gift.
- With the Pacers losing to Domantas Sabonis and not playing super-big, the Spurs’ starting lineup of four guards held up pretty well in the first quarter as they defended the perimeter, blocked and sped up the transition. Jakob Poeltl even managed to get 8 minutes in the first quarter with just two fouls. When you stay away from foul trouble and are dedicated to defense, you help prevent complete defensive failures around you.
- Again there was no Patty Mills, but Johnson and Quinndary Weatherspoon were ahead of Bryn Forbes from the bench, who was a DNP on it. Is this a break game for him, or is it an even bigger sign that Gregg Popovich is participating in the youth movement?
- A typical trend with Drew Eubanks during these practice games seems to be that he comes out slowly and has to brush off some nerves, but once he’s comfortable, he improves considerably throughout the game. It’s still not good, but for the most part it’s been solid enough (after the aforementioned first nerves) to guarantee the central minutes of backup while the Spurs are short-handed.
- Although the Spurs finished the first half 60-59, overall they looked much stronger than they have been so far. They were aggressive on offense, forcing their way into the paint or finding the shooter open on the perimeter rather than simply settling for typical mid-range shots. As a result, they were rewarded with a 15-8 TLC lead in the first half – a first in the entire adjustment round. They also committed 5 turnovers in the first half after having over 20 in the previous two games.
- The Spurs caught fire in the second half, overtaking up to 14 points in the back of a better ball movement that led to open looks, and things didn’t fall much when the bench entered. A large part of That was Rudy Gay seemed to come out of his chaos. After many questioned his fitness level in the first two games, he contributed 23 points on 7-12 shots with just two turnovers. DeMar DeRozan also had his strongest performance yet, with 17 points on 8-13 shots and 7 rebounds, and did not hinder the ability of the young players around him to shine.
- The third unit entered with the Spurs up 106-96 with 5:30 remaining in the fourth, and they maintained the lead to ensure victory. In case someone asked, Luka Samanic seemed more engaged than before, though he screwed up two Lonnie Walker IV assists by missing an open layup and corner three.
That’s it for the scrimmages! The Spurs will return to the court for the first of eight regular games. It will be a must-win if they want to make the playoffs, as they will face the Sacramento Kings – one of four teams ahead in the standings competing for eighth or ninth place. Notice will be at 7:00 PM CT at FSSW.