Call me a fan of the Pacers; they are the type of team I try to build in fantasy basketball, but always end up with something closer to the Wizards (I suck at fantasy). The last game saw the Raptors put up a lot of really bad jumpers, while the Pacers annoyingly hit a lot of open ones. The Raptors offense has gotten better since that game, but the Raptors need to get some cheaper baskets to open things up some.

Tim Donahue and Jared Wade from Eight Points, Nine Seconds (a Reggie Miller reference) were gracious enough to answer a few of my questions:

True or False: David West was the best free agent signing of the summer.

Tim True – Granted, I haven’t done an exhaustive comparison, but I’m hard-pressed to imagine any other free agents bringing as much of what their new team needed – toughness, maturity, leadership – as David has brought the Pacers. Despite individual numbers that are low for him (18.3 PER, .430 eFG%), he has been a big part of Indy’s 7-3 start.

Jared True. Look at West’s individual numbers and he doesn’t jump out as someone who has been a major difference-maker so far, but just his presence has been huge. He has been a key cog in the spacing and ball movement that has helped Indy’s starting lineup be the second best 5-man unit in the league so far among those that have played at least 100 minutes. And this doesn’t capture his effect off the court. He is a no-nonsense, grown-up presence in the locker room who all the players have praised for being a team leader since day one.

There’s been some rumblings about Grangers role on the team moving forward with the emergence of Paul George; does he finally get traded, and what will the Pacers want in return? (who are you pining for?)

Tim I have never really put much stock into any Granger trade rumors. He’s what I call a “zero sum” trade asset – meaning it’s hard to do a trade where you significantly improve the team after taking Danny off of it. Paul George isn’t ready yet, and wing depth isn’t great for the Pacers. Indy can get more value out of Danny on the floor than they can in any trade – at least for now.

Jared I don’t see any way Larry Bird trades Granger this season. Perhaps if he can’t pull out of this shooting tailspin, but then you’re not going to get much back. In the summer, I could see it. But George would have to show more. Danny remains the most dynamic offensive player on the team and while West and Hibbert have shown something up front, the Pacers would need to get an equivalent perimeter threat back in return.

Is it time to start mentioning Larry Bird in the same breath with the other top executives in the league?

Tim I think it’s time to recognize that Bird is a good, solid head of the Pacer organization, but so many test remain before you can consider him a top exec. Keep in mind, the Pacers haven’t won more than 37 games since he took over from Donnie Walsh. I love his patience, and that alone may put him in the top half of the execs of the league – but it all has to translate to success on the floor and in the playoffs first.

Jared It’s too early for that, but he has done a much better job navigating the salary cap hell Indiana was in than most people were giving him credit for even six months ago. He just waited and waited and waited. His endgame was seizing an opportunity to trade for a guy every team would love on their bench in George Hill and signed West to a top-notch contract, all the while stacking up young, cheap, promising assets. The roster is probably still one big piece away from being any more than the Hawks have been the past few seasons, but even that is a big leap forward from the doldrums this franchise has muddling through the past four years.

Match-ups

Point Guard
It pains me to say this, but we’re missing Bayless; Jose needs some relief. Collison made a lot of things happen for his teammates last game, and has show range on his jumper. I’d rather Calderon keeps him on the perimeter and gets a hand up on him when he shoots then let him start attacking the defense off the bounce then kicking to an open wing for a three.
Edge: Even

Shooting Guard
DeMar can’t give Paul George 7 open looks from beyond the arc like he did last game; or the guy is going to hit 4 of him like he did. Not sure wtf is going on with DeRozan, but he’s had since Wednesday off, and needs to do better. An easy way is to get to the line, which requires him to attack paint, which requires him to get his head in the game. Put some pressure on George on defense, and hopefully his legs wont be in every shot he takes.
Edge: Indiana

Small Forward
It’s great to have Kleiza back; Wednesday against the Kings he took away 14 minutes from Butler/Johnson. It’s not like he’s going to play 30 minutes tonight, but a gradual increase in court time will only help things out. I can deal with 10 minutes each for Butler and Johnson a game; max. Good luck with Granger tonight.
Edge: Indiana

Power Forward
I like the different looks Indiana can throw at the 4. Between Hansbrough and West, they can trot out beast after beast. If Bargnani can’t go tonight (listed as questionable), Davis wont be cutting it. If he can, he’s going to be playing injured, which could make things worse.
Edge: Indiana

Center
Get used to seeing this tonight: Hibbert  backs Johnson/Magloire down from the elbow for a layup. The play from any forward other than Bargnani has been inconsistent at best. While Amir has had some big games recently, he’s had a tough time with large centers, only mustering 2 points the last time out (although he did grab 10 boards). I’m not high on this match-up at all.
Edge: Indiana

Injuries

Toronto
Jerryd Bayless – Ankle, day-to-day
Andrea Bargnani – Calf, questionable
Aaron Gray – Heart, out

Indiana
George Hill  – Back, should play
Tyler Hansbrough – Eye, should play
Danny Granger – Ankle/Food Poisoning, should play

Keys to the Game

  • Rotate on the perimeter; the Pacers had 10 very clean looks from beyond the arc the last time out. Have to make them work for their baskets, and not give them 3 Mississippi’s to shoot
  • Defend the paint; Magloire did a good job on Hansbrough, frustrating the kid. The front court needs to throw elbows, knock people down, and not concede an inch
  • No second chances; I’d like to see the Raptors give up less than 10 offensive rebounds tonight. The Pacers will take plenty jumpers, with plenty rebounds
  • Control the pace; can’t get into an up-and-down game with the Pacers. They have a lot of guys who can get out on transition and open things up. Need to slow it down and grind them into the ground

The Line

Nothing has been posted yet, but with Bargnani injured and possibly out, I don’t like the Raptors chances.

Photo Credit: Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images

  • maxcrushers

    They are an unpredicitable team this year. Purely on a hunch,I predict a surprise win tonight as some of the players (most of the team) that have sucked in hitting their open shots finally hit some. Seems to me Rasual need to show offensive nba talent or he will be gone soon.  Good point about Derozan getting tuned on D last game by George. DD needs to realize one can start some O, and break out of a slump, with some intense D.

  • draftedraptor

    C – Indiana
    PF – Indiana
    SF- Indiana
    SG- Indiana
    PG- Indiana

    sounds about right. next!
     

  • Brian B

    If AB can’t go, I’d rather see Casey start Magloire against Hibbert & shift Amir to match up at PF. Then bring Davis off bench when the foul trouble ensues. Might then need Kleiza & JJ at the 4 as well if both Amir & Magloire are in trouble, which is what I’d expect. Oh, my goodness. The horrors! This is where Gray’s size is missed.

  • Adriiian

    If Andrea doesn’t play, this game will be a laugher, I can’t wait to watch, should be hilarious!

    Let’s go RAPS!

    • WHAT THE

      Thats the type of people we call a f–b–, your hero is not playing so the rest of the TEAM the other 1o players aren’t good enough to compete so the game tonite should be hilarious, well i’m a fan of the name on the front of the jersey and i can’t wait to watch my TEAM play tonite and WILL pull out the win tonite any bets? 
      LETS GO RAPTORS!!!  

  • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

    Each team has had a day of rest for this match up.

    TO PG < IND PG (Collinson another NBA starting pg drafted after DD)

    TO SG < IND SG (DD vs Paul)

    TO SF < IND SF (Danger, danger Will Rogers its' Granger- will Kleiza start?)

    TO PF < IND PF (will Amir get to play his natural position tonite vs West)

    TO C < IND C (Magloire, Amir or Ed vs Hibbert- nuff said)

    TO Bench < IND Bench (Raptors need bench to step up big time this game)

    With or without AB I forsee a Raptors L against the mighty Pacers- 101 90.

    Hibbert another one of BC's masterpiece trade transactions playing for the other team.smh lol 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SJT6LQ6HZQWMPJMT22LTN24UUY Antonino Ferraro

      I was wondering why BC had traded Hibbert. Nowadays we would have had Bargnani-Hibbert. Not to bad.

    • Nilanka15

      We don’t know if Colangelo kept that pick, if he would’ve selected Hibbert.  That deal was in the works before it was made official.  Hibbert was selected because Indiana wanted him.

      How come we never hear you complaining about the Delfino/Amir trade?

      • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

        Why are you so worried about what I want to talk about in this forum?

        Stay in your lane, lame-o.

        • Nilanka15

          I can ask you the same thing.  Why are you so worried about we think about BC, Casey, Bargnani, DeRozan, etc.?

          • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

            Really?lmfao

            Except I’m not jocking your post, buddy, and could care less what you thought about anything Raptors related- recognize game.

            • Nilanka15

              So why is it that you don’t complain about the Delfino/Amir trade?  Is it because you don’t want to admit that Colangelo (for once) made a good move?

              Spare me the Mr. Dressup rhymes you love spewing, and just answer the question.

              • sleepz

                Thats been one of BC’s best trades in my opinion, although Delfino’s not looking too bad in Milwaukee so far this year.

                I know you weren’t asking me but I love to chime in at times. lol

          • WHAT THE

            maybe he wasn’t speaking to you but to the people who shares his views on the Raptors team/Org. no disrespect NILANKA but either party can use the arrow down key

            • Nilanka15

              I don’t have a problem reading his posts.  I was just highlighting how lame the “don’t worry about me” response is when a legitimate question is asked of him.

            • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

              They- the sucka side bustas on this blog- can’t stop reading/responding to my posts because even if they disagree with said post it always contains some truth in it as well as opinion that gets them heated leaving their panties in a bunch.

              • Cam

                Ya right buddy, you blow a hissy fit when you hear any mention of BC/Casey/Bargnani etc. doing a good job by another poster. Most of your posts are replies.

    • Bearvon

      your neck must be killing you.

      • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

        If you really think that I’m shaking my head everytime- you must be seriously stuck on stupid rewind it & loop it- shoop, shoop, shoop it.

        • KaioKev

          Take it easy man, I’m pretty sure he’s just kidding around with the  amound of times you say smh or smdh.

          • 2damkule

            i just figured bearvon was referring to his head being up his asshole.  that’s gotta hurt.

            • Bearvon

              SMDHUMA!

    • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

      Sacramento Kings have hired Alex English as an assistant coach.

      Coach Keith Smart said in a statement announcing the hiring Friday that having a former elite player on the staff will be especially good for the current players.

      English comes to the Kings after spending seven seasons as an assistant coach and director of player development with the Toronto Raptors.

      The eight-time All-Star is the NBA’s 13th all-time leading scorer with 25,613 points. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1997.

      http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/7459667/alex-english-hired-sacramento-kings-assistant-coach

      English was not retained by Casey yet Nori, Hughes & Roth were retained by Casey- what part of the game is that???

      • p00ka

        7 years as assistant coach and director of player development. And (in the kind of brilliance you like to use), how many playoff wins did his great help produce?
        *Note to anyone else; Not dissing Alex (great guy and HOFer)

        • WHAT THE

          as you and Cesco would say is he on the floor,is he playing,is he the one taking the shots

  • Bearvon

    Really great write up Sam. Im predicting a blood bath from beyond for the Pacers, but with Bargnani most likely out I think we will see Derozan “get his” in a very inefficient way.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SJT6LQ6HZQWMPJMT22LTN24UUY Antonino Ferraro

    Without Bargs no chance, with him a little (less than 30%).

    • WHAT THE

      i wouldn’t mind watching the next 11 or more games with the group that will be taking the floor tonight win or lose lets go raptors and i won’t even throw my remote at the tv

  • Matt52

    The great thing about the West signing is that it is only for 2 years.  Many teams throw big money at 29/30 year olds only to be crippled by the contract.  New Orleans is a perfect example with long term contracts given to Peja, Mo Pete, and James Posey.

    • Nilanka15

      I wasn’t following the negotiations leading up to that contract, but it’s rare for that to happen.  Either no other team was willing to take a chance on West (coming off injury), or West turned down other offers, took less money, and joined an up-and-coming team he sees potential in.

      For example, if the Knicks offered Chandler 2 years (instead of 4), I don’t think he signs in New York.

      • 2damkule

        there was a deal in the works with boston, that would have (reportedly) sent JO & filler to NO and net west a 3-yr deal for $27M-ish…it fell apart, but i’m not sure why.

    • sleepz

      +1

  • 2damkule

    without bargs, why not start kleiza at the 4 & put him on west, and have JJ start at the 3 vs. granger, with amir on hibbert (for about 4 minutes, until he picks up his 2nd foul…ain’t no small thing defending a guy who has 2-3 inches & 40-ish lbs on you in the paint).  kind of like how it’s not easy to defend an incredibly athletic 6’10” SG when you’re giving up 4 or 5 inches.  aside from DC, the pacers starters are all looong dudes…pretty frightening trio on the perimeter (george/granger/west), esp. if their shots are falling.  it’s nice to say, ‘don’t give them open looks,’ but putting that into practice is something else entirely…since if you’re going to not give up open looks, it generally means you’re not offering help on anyone, and who amongst the raptors can be counted on to limit (‘shut down’ is not a term that applies here) their guy without help?

    • mountio

      This will be an interesting test of Casey’s creativity. Jay was absolutely horrible at this (the concept of going “Big” or going “Small” depending on the opponent. To me, this is a critical point of coaching that is often overlooked.
      For example, our 3’s SUCK. We all know this. Why not throw out AB, Ed and AJ together from time to time? Ya .. you will have a matchup problem on one end, but a mismatch on the other. Force the other team to react (and more importantly, get your best players the most minutes). I think we can all agree the Ed is a much better player and needs more minutes than RB or JJ…?
      Same with going small. JJ (or now LK) can play some 4 .. why not mix it up?
      While Im not sure I would start this lineup, I would go with it for stretches absolutely .. what do we have to lose? West is an undersized 4 that JJ at least could defend quite well…
      We will see ..

  • Jeffrey Thompson

    The Raptors will be in trouble in Bargnarni is not on the floor because the Raptors will lose their most reliable scorer.  Demar needs to put up or shut up.  Those last three games were a disgrace.  He seems more tentative now and has not played with the same intensity.  

    And other than those two, who will step up for the Raptors?  Amir Johnson is more of a transition players and not reliable in offensive production.  Barbosa has been inconsistent shooting .368 from the field.  Forget about wings–they’re pathetic when it comes to offense. Although James Johnson has had some bright moments, he’s been more of a defensive stopper than anything else and as for Rasual Butler, just don’t give the ball to him anymore.  

    I think the Raps should start Gary Forbes since neither Johnson nor Butler has been doing the job on the offensive end.  Casey should give him a chance at least–what’s the worst that can happen?  It can’t be any worse than the Raptors have now, right? I see the Pacers taking this one unfortunately and by a big margin.  

    • WHAT THE

      how would SOME people feel if the raptors beat the PACERS pacers tonight?

      • KaioKev

        I’d be nice to see the Raps win. Those W’s are starting to become hard to come by.

      • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

        That’s because the Raptors aren’t playing Cleveland anymore.lol
         
        I believe that most fans want the Raptors to win games but the reality is that it will be hard for them against quality NBA teams- as is.

    • Nilanka15

      I wouldn’t mind giving Barbosa the start tonight, just to give DeRozan a wakeup call.

      • WHAT THE

        Demar will never ever come of the bench for the raptors

        • Nilanka15

          I can’t say he deserves to be starting based on how he’s played this year (on either end of the floor).

  • Sfasdfsd

    I’m going to watch a winner tonight…the Leafs!

    • WHAT THE

      Can i ask you a question if the player who got hurt in the last game was or is playing tonight would you watch the raptors tonite or are you going to wait until that player comes

  • WHAT THE

    Nice to here this from D Casey “i don’t care if he misses 15 shats as long as he is were he’s suppose to be on the floor” and win or lose i don’t mind watching the next 11 games against these power house teams with the group that will be taking the floor tonight and for me tonight every player that plays is “driving the bus” win or lose. LETS GO RAPTORS

    • WHAT THE

      …and he’s got the green light you go boy keep that GOLD spoon in your mouth some guys had a silver spoon in their mouth for almost 6 years

  • babyface

    wha wha wha wha what the wha

  • mountio

    Good effort. But – wtf is JM doing in the game, down 3 with like 15 seconds left .. let alone being the guy who recieves the inbounds pass? Inexcusable ….

    • WHAT THE

      so is the coach under the bus or what