SPURS AT PACERS, 7 P.M. ET

TV: NBA TV

  • Despite the team’s fifth consecutive road loss, 90-76 Sunday in Cleveland, Indiana coach Frank Vogel said he was encouraged by the Pacers’ play heading into tonight’s matchup with the NBA’s hottest team, San Antonio. “We understand we’re frustrated with how we’re playing and we’re eager to rectify it, to get back to playing winning basketball,” Vogel said. “I really think we made a dramatic shift going into the Cleveland game. We were all frustrated afterwards but you watch the tape and you get very encouraged. I think they’re just focused on continuing to play the right way and this time hopefully getting the payoff.” Indiana was 13-for-40 (.325) on uncontested shots against the Cavs, well below their season average of 44 percent.
  • The Spurs have won 17 in a row and would set a franchise record streak with a victory tonight but to hear coach Gregg Popovich tell it, his team might benefit more from a loss. “I think it’d be a good idea at some point to do that,” he said with a smile. “I don’t know when it’s going to happen but it will happen, that’s for sure and when it does it’ll be good. You don’t try to go lose. You just keep playing and eventually the percentages are with us, I think, to lose here pretty soon.”
  • Indiana has fallen into a deep offensive slump, averaging 80.4 points on .384 shooting in losing five of their last seven games. Paul George has been at the forefront of the team’s struggle, shooting 31 percent in that span.
  • The Spurs, meanwhile, have averaged 111.7 points, 29.1 assists and shot .494 overall and .438 from the 3-point line in their winning streak. Six players have averaged between 10.9 and 14.6 points, with each of those hitting at least 46 percent from the field.
  • With a victory tonight, the Pacers would have their first season sweep of the Spurs since the 1994-95 season. A loss coupled with a Miami win over Toronto, on the other hand, would drop the Pacers percentage points behind the Heat and out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference for the first time this season. “Everybody understands the opportunity that we have here, the group of guys we have here, the talent we have here and the ability we have,” Vogel said. “Everybody understands it. Nobody’s happy with how we’re playing and there’s urgency to rectify it.”
  • Danny Green, who missed the past two games with foot inflammation, will return to the Spurs’ starting lineup tonight, rejoining Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter. The Spurs will be without Aron Baynes, diagnosed with a non-displaced right rib fracture. Matt Bonner (calf strain) is inactive.
  • The Pacers will start their usual lineup of George Hill, Lance Stephenson, George, David West and Roy Hibbert. Andrew Bynum (knee) and C.J. Watson hamstring) are inactive.

- Conrad Brunner

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