The Indiana Pacers, thus far, are proving to be the best overall team in the entire NBA. Behind suffocating defense and an MVP candidate like Paul George, Indiana has begun the 2013 season with a bang going 18-2 prior to Saturday’s matchup with the defending Western Conference Champion San Antonio Spurs.
It seems that every year the Spurs continue to ride under the radar with their aging roster. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili may be nearing the end of their careers, but the Spurs have always been in the conversation for a championship each year.
Since 2002, the Pacers have yet to win in San Antonio, and Saturday night it didn’t get off to a very promising start for Indiana’s case. The Spurs led by as many as 13 with over nine minutes remaining in the second quarter, but from then on Indiana began to not only chip away at the lead, but build one of their own.
The Pacers led by 22 at the end of the third quarter and things didn’t look good for the Spurs. Although San Antonio dropped 35 points in the fourth quarter, it wasn’t enough for a successful comeback. Indiana finally won on the road against the Spurs and ended an 11-year drought.
”We had a good first quarter,” Duncan said after the game according to CBS Sports. ”Second quarter they started making some shots and we weren’t able to keep up. We went cold, they heated up and got a little lead there. We just couldn’t recover.”
A victory like this means more to the Pacers than the loss does to the Spurs. It gives Indiana the confidence to know that they can always come back in a big game against one of the league’s best.
”We knew it was a long game,” George said. ”This is one team that never thinks we’re out of a game, no matter what the circumstances are. But we knew that we had to get stops and we had to match their energy.”
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was asked after the game about his team’s effort in Saturday’s loss.
”If you lose, you were less aggressive, and you didn’t have the effort; that’s all baloney,” Popovich said. ”That’s psycho-babble. You don’t think Patty Mills and those guys played hard? You don’t think Timmy tried to play hard? That’s silly. They played better than we did. It’s got nothing to do with effort.”
Like I said, this loss doesn’t mean much for the Spurs. In fact, the only time a loss truly matters to Popovich is when it’s a loss that knocks his team out of a playoff series. The Spurs don’t over exaggerate and neither do their coach — and they’re better off for it.