OK. The easy part is over. Despite their best efforts, the Pacers have managed to win two fo their three games thus far even while playing the sixth worst offense of any team in the NBA (at 96.8 points per 100 possessions). Indiana’s defense, however, has been stingy. Or, perhaps more accurately, they have played three bad teams who were unable to score during three games that the Pacers also happened to be playing in. One of the two.
They will likely need to step it up on both ends to deal with the undefeated San Antonio Spurs, which are currently scoring at the 10th best rate in the NBA and had the best offense in the league last season. They haven’t been blowing away the competition, but they have more talent and a better pedigree than the Pacers.
The only break Indy may be catching is that Manu Ginobili is banged up. He did make his season debut on Saturday, but managed just 15 minutes of action, so Indiana probably won’t see him at his best tonight. There is plenty else to worry about, however, with Tim Duncan looking like he found what Ponce De Leon never could, Tony Parker continuing to be one of the best points in the league and a complementary cast led by could-a-been Pacer Kawhi Leonard.
In closing, the team that beat the Kings and the Raptors will not beat the Spurs.
For more on the Pacers and the game, read his chat between me and Andrew McNeill of the Spurs blog 48 Minutes of Hell. Here is a little taste.
Andrew McNeill, 48 Minutes of Hell: Considering the Pacers were oh-so-close to taking down the Heat in last year’s playoffs, where are they at to start this season?
Jared Wade, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: Their offseason consisted of retaining their key free agents (Roy Hibbert and George Hill) and retooling the bench. There was no reason to think it was a big upgrade, but with guys like Gerald Green and Ian Mahinmi, there is more potential upside. Still, I don’t think many people would say they made any major improvements, so the consensus agrees that anything more than making it to the Eastern Conference Finals is probably a pipe dream — especially if Danny Granger’s knee issue lingers all season.
AM: What’s the latest on Granger? Are things looking bleak?
JW: As of now, we really don’t know. The doctors are still looking at photos and checking out his sore left knee. He originally hurt it in the Miami series and aggravated it in the preseason. I’m far from a doctor so can’t really offer any prognosis. But I can say this confidently: things look very bleak for Indiana’s offense if Granger misses significant time. They barely edged Toronto in their opener (which took a Herculean effort from David West), lost to Charlotte while showing a complete inability to score, and needed two overtimes to beat the lowly Kings. Yeah, the offense without the captain has not run smoothly.
Read the rest at 48MOH and comment about the game below.
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