After a brutal loss to the Charlotte Hornets, the Indiana Pacers bounced back in a big way on Monday night, taking down the San Antonio Spurs in a blowout victory, handling Victor Wembanyama in the process.
Through the Spurs’ first few games of the season, Wembanyama has been incredible, but the Pacers, who are not known for their defensive play, managed to bring his dominance to a brief halt.
Pacers forward Obi Toppin reveals strategy when guarding Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama: ‘Only thing you can do’
New Indiana forward Obi Toppi discussed the general strategy when guarding Wembanyama, noting that the only way to match up with him is to be very physical (H/t Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star)
“He’s definitely tall, but being physical with him, that’s the only thing you can do,” Toppin said. “I think I got an early foul on him just kind of setting the tone like, it’s-not-going-to-be-easy type of thing. But nah, all you can do is try to stay in front and contest his shots. He’s going to still be able to get his shots off. He’s going to make some. You can’t overreact.”
Wembanyama finished the game with 13 points, 10 rebounds, one steal, and two blocks but shot just 3-of-12 from the floor and 2-of-5 from behind the three-point line.
Throughout the contest, Toppin only guarded Wembanyama for 3:22 of game time. In those minutes, Wembanyama only scored four points and shot 1-of-3 from the field and 0-of-1 from deep, turning the ball over twice.
Toppin put up solid numbers of his own in the massive Pacers win. The 25-year-old forward had 19 points, two rebounds, one assist, and two steals while shooting 6-of-11 from deep and 1-of-3 from beyond the three-point arc.
For the Pacers, the win represented their ability to fill it up on the offensive end, but their success against Wembanyama should be the biggest story from the evening.
The Pacers have been one of the worst defensive teams in the league this year, and even in this game, the Spurs still managed to score 11 points. That said, stopping Victor Wembanyama is no easy task, and the Pacers did as good a job as anyone on that front.