Matchup: Indiana Pacers vs Toronto Raptors
Records: Pacers (20-11), Raptors (23-9)
Where to Watch
Date: Thursday, Dec. 20
Time: 6:00 am
TV: Sony Ten1
Location: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
If it wasn't for Larry Nance Jr.'s game-winning tip-in, the Pacers would be heading to Toronto to face the league's best team riding an 8-game winning streak.
Nontheless, they are still a team that has been among the league's hottest over the past couple of weeks. Since Dec. 5, Indiana have gone 7-1 in their eight games. Five of these seven wins have come without their All-Star Victor Oladipo.
Oladipo took a couple of games to get his step back but despite that, the team picked up wins during those games against the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers. Over this two-week stretch, their offensive rating is ranked at 15th (108.8) but their league-best defense - 98.3 has helped them have the third-best net rating (10.5).
Indiana has the biggest strength right now that any team would want - health and their deep roster is playing a huge role in their season so far. Their bench, which averages 10.2 assists per game (2nd best), has the best net rating in the league.
This is the Pacers' first matchup against the Raptors and so far, they've done fine against the other members of the East's top five teams. Against the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, the Pacers are a combined 2-3 (40%).
While the Pacers have been trending up in the past couple of weeks, the Raptors have been heading in the other direction. The Toronto franchise went 20-4 in their first 24 games but since Dec. 4, they have won just three games of their eight since.
The silver lining, though, is that the combined loss margin through these five games has just been 24 points. The final four games of these last eight were part of a 4-game Western Conference road trip with games in Los Angeles (Clippers), Golden State, Portland, and Denver.
They ended this road trip with consecutive losses to the Trail Blazers and the Nuggets by a combined margin of just 15 points. Prior to that, they put up a clinic on both ends of the floor with blowout wins against the Clippers and the Warriors by a combined margin of 44 points.
To put simply, the Raptors have been inconsistent over the past fortnight. Can two days off since returning from this road trip help them get their register a much-needed huge win?
- This will be the Pacers' sixth back-to-back this season and so far, they are 5-0 on the second night of a back-to-back.
- The Raptors' will host a team in Toronto for the 16th time this season and their home record reads 11-4 so far. Meanwhile, Indiana has an above average road record of 9-6.
- With Victor Oladipo back, the Pacers have no players on the probables or injured list.
- The Raptors will definitely miss Jonas Valanciunas, who is recovering from a dislocated thumb. Toronto also has four players who are game-time decisions - Kyle Lowry (Thigh), Pascal Siakam (Back), Serge Ibaka (Knee), and Fred VanVleet (Back).
Last Time They Played
Date: Apr. 7, 2018
Score: Pacers 73, Raptors 92
Pacers: Trevor Booker - 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 steal
Raptors: Serge Ibaka - 25 points and 8 rebounds on 76.9% shooting