NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, March 31st (All times Eastern)
San Antonio Spurs (57-16) at Indiana Pacers (52-22), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Indiana Pacers are reeling and things won't get any easier on Monday night when they welcome the scorching-hot San Antonio Spurs to Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
It's a matchup of the top teams in each conference, although only one is playing like it at the moment.
The Spurs have won 17 straight games, the longest streak in the NBA this season.
The Pacers have lost two in a row, four of five and five of their last seven. Indiana's lead in the Eastern Conference over the Miami Heat has shrunk to one game.
"I don't know. Obviously we would've fixed it by now if it was something simpler," Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said after Sunday's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. "We're playing against ourselves right now. It's a level of play that we're trying to reach that we're not close to where we need to be.
"We're all frustrated. We just got to win the next game. That's our only mindset."
Nothing cures a rut that might cost the Pacers homecourt, which they've held from the beginning of the season, than a visit from the Spurs, who have won a franchise-record-tying 17 straight games.
The Spurs haven't lost since Feb. 21 at Phoenix, a span that includes six consecutive road wins. San Antonio has clinched a playoff spot and is three games in front of the Oklahoma City Thunder for first in the Western Conference.
The Spurs won their last outing Saturday night, a home victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. San Antonio dispatched its rivals from the Southwest Division, 96-80.
Marco Belinelli scored 18 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc to lead the Spurs to a 17th straight victory.
"He's been really steady for us and he plays a great all-around game," said head coach Gregg Popovich. "He's not just a shooter, but he's a good passer. He's maybe one of our two best cutters on the team without the ball."
The franchise also won 17 games in a row from Feb. 29-March 31, 1996.
Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard each scored 15 points with five rebounds for San Antonio, while Patty Mills added 13 points in the win.
The Spurs start an important run Monday night. They welcome the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night, then visit the Thunder in a crucial matchup Thursday night.
Indiana finished a mini road trip Sunday night with a 90-76 setback in Cleveland to the Cavaliers. The Pacers have lost five in a row on the road, but own the league's best home record of 33-4. They've won four straight as the host.
Paul George scored 15 points and grabbed seven boards to pace the Pacers, who were handed their second straight double-digit defeat following a hard-fought 84-83 win over the Heat on Wednesday.
David West finished with 14 and Lance Stephenson chipped in 11. Those three were the only double-figure scorers for the Pacers, who shot 37.2 percent from the field.
"We're losing games at an alarming rate to teams that are inferior to us. And we can't figure out a way to perform better," said West. "We can't figure out a way to really draw it together. We've done what you do. We've had team meetings, we've had players-only meetings, we've had players and the coaches. We're kind of just looking for answers right now."
The Pacers beat the Spurs in San Antonio on Dec. 7 to end an 11-game series losing streak. The Spurs have won five straight in Indianapolis.
03/31 10:22:04 ET