No second-half slump
This was the biggest thing I noticed. As Pacers fans have been learning the hard way for years, no lead is safe when the Indiana Pacers are the ones holding it, especially if that lead was built in the first quarter.
Look no further than the Cleveland In-Season Tournament game, where, although the Pacers did come up with a win, they had to do some extra work for it despite being up by 17 points at the half.
The third quarter of that game was a typical Pacers third-quarter slump, as Indiana finished the quarter only up by one point, with the Cavaliers even taking the lead a few times before the Pacers took the game away in the clutch.
Tonight was expected to be more of the same. While the Pacers did thoroughly dominate the Spurs in the first half, leading by 25 going into the third quarter, all Pacers fans could think of was the inevitable Pacers third-quarter slump.
Even as the Pacers held surge through the third quarter, the nerves were still there that the Pacers of old would creep out and give the Spurs a fighting chance to rip the game away from their hands.
This would end up not being the case, however, as the Pacers outscored the Spurs 33-26 in the third quarter and entered the fourth quarter up by 32 points, ready to put the game away, which they did after extending the lead to 41 before the final buzzer sounded.
The Pacers lead ballooned to so much that rookies Jarace Walker and Ben Sheppard even got some playing time, with Sheppard scoring seven points and Walker hitting two free throws on the night.
Nights like this are rare, not just for the Pacers but for almost every NBA team. Usually, when a team has a strong first half and builds a large lead, they take their foot off the gas a bit in the third quarter and get a bit lazy, ultimately allowing the other team to get back in the game slowly but surely.
This is an issue the Pacers have been struggling with for years, and that has been continuing to haunt them, ultimately making the fans not satisfied with any lead, as it feels like Indiana could revert back to their old ways at any time and give the opposition the slightest bit of hope for a comeback.
Surprisingly, this did not even come close to happening against San Antonio, as the Pacers got a wire-to-wire victory and ended the night on a high note.