I started the week off by predicting a 3-1 week for the Raptors and a win over the Pacers tonight. Two hopefully minor knee injuries to two of the arguably most important Raptors later and I’m a little nervous about that pick. I stand by it, but seeing Kyle Lowry and Amir Johnson in the layup lines would go an awfully long way towards assuaging my nerves about it.
On the bright side, the Indiana Pacers are in the midst of a complete mental breakdown. CJ Watson’s absence has been rough on a second unit that struggled mightily to score even with him. But the real problem has been the starters (not to be confused with The Starters, whose off-the-wall April Fools episode was genius). Paul George had to hit a last second 3 pointer that looked more like a QB throwing a 40 yard post bomb than a basketball shot just to sneak out a win the other night. Against Detroit.

David West has taken a small step back this season, and that’s been a big problem for an Indiana offence that secretly relied on him more than you’d think. West is down from 17 points and 8 rebounds to 13 points and 6 rebounds a game. It’s not just a case of playing less minutes on a veteran curve either, as his per 36 minutes stats have sagged comparably. Part of the Raptor’s occasional success against the Pacer’s has been Amir Johnson’s ability to contain David West. If Amir plays and controls David West, the Pacer’s offence should be easily corralled by the Raps. Amir Johnson makes David West cover more ground than he normally would guarding pick and rolls and running the court. In addition to his athleticism, Amir is strong enough to push back defensively against West’s high post bullying and battle him for offensive rebounds and put-backs. West has not had success against the strong and athletic power forwards in the league, rare though they be.

While David West is important to Indiana’s offense, Paul George is the key to it. His mid-range game, which was unsustainably hot to start the season, has crashed brutally back to Earth. But that’s not his only problem. George has struggled to drive to the basket. Between Hibbert battling for post position (which they will need him to be ready to do as a major cog of their offence if they hope to beat Miami in the conference finals, which suddenly feels like it’s putting the chicken before the egg) help defense doesn’t struggle to step into the lane when there is so little movement and effective off-ball screening and misdirection keep them busy. Evan Turner was been much better from 3-point range with the Pacers so far than the 28% he was shooting in Philly, but besides the fact that the 17 shots he’s taken are too small of a sample size to reach any meaningful conclusions, the rest of what he’s been in Indiana so far has been bad. He’s been a problem on defense, which is typical of a player in a new system, but especially so when it’s a system as quick and demanding as Indiana’s. It doesn’t help that Evan Turner has never been a plus defender and played the last year and a half for a Philadelphia team that could not possibly have given less ishes about defensive laziness.

If it seems like I’m really hammering the point here that the Pacer’s offence is vulnerable, it’s because it is. Like, it REALLY is. Since February 1st, the 76ers have been the only team in the league with a worse offence than Indiana. Which is to say, in a normal year wherein the most embarrassingly bad team in the history of the NBA was not currently playing, the Pacers would have had the worst offence in the league. So yeah, I like the Raptors tonight.

Things to look for:

Hansbrough owes a body slam to at least one Pacer to make up for trying to suplex Valanciunas a year ago.

The two Lance Stephensons. Lance was an all-star contender in the first half of the season. He now has 198 turnovers on the season, 18th most in the league.

Amir Johnson and Roy Hibbert are tied for the lead league in personal fouls coming in to tonight (260 apiece). Whoever picks up more harms is going to walk out of the ACC wearing the belt. If you think that neither one of these players knows nor cares about this title, well, you’re probably right. Let’s move on.

Valanciunas is closing in on Hibbert’s numbers. Not his defense, sure. But watch the matchup. Valanciunas is 15th in the league in total rebounding percentage. 20th in the league in rebounding, 17th in shooting percentage and he’s shooting 76% from the free throw line. That’s an awful lot of efficient contribution from a 21-year old whose still only playing 27 minutes a game.

  • ibleedpurple

    You may like the Raptors tonite but fate will choose this night as the night the Pacers get their offensive groove back and drop 120 on us. Every time RR publishes a pre-game analysis predicting a win, the Raptors lose. I’d be interested to see the statistics on it though if someone would care to prove me wrong.

    • GetLicks

      I have a feeling they’re gonna be in a rotten mood from being passed in the standings by Miami, and want to put a beating on whoever is put in front of them (us) lol.

      • jjdynomite

        Yeah but with knuckleheads like Stephenson on their team the only team they beat is themselves.

    • Roarque

      The Pacers could win but they will not score 120 against the Raptors system unless it’s on the free throw line.
      Big night for Supernova – 5 threes predicted here.

    • Nilanka15

      Correlation does not equal causation.

      • ibleedpurple

        I’m not about statistical analysis. I’m about superstition.

    • Guest

      I think he jinxed it with the Matt Hasselbeck reference in the headline to the article.

    • jjdynomite

      Oops. Egg meet face of ibleedpurple. Some fan you are.

      • ibleedpurple

        JJ you don’t understand the way sports superstition works. I had to negate the overly confident pre-game post with my half hearted prediction that the pacers would win. Send all the eggs I don’t give a shit. Raps win raps win.

        • jjdynomite

          Oh I didn’t know that “drop 120 on us” is a “half hearted prediction” as opposed to a boldly self-flagellating but typically Canadian attitude. Whatever works I guess. How about next time, power of positive energy >>> sports superstition.

  • asifyouknow

    Greivis Vasquez will start vs Indiana tonight…

    • Boner Patrol

      Bet that caused a serious case of morning wood for ya, didn’t it?

      • ibleedpurple

        Your username is fantastic.

        • Boner Patrol

          Just don’t get on my bad side, or else it’s a cold shower for you sir.

      • asifyouknow

        wow is the best smack you got ? Is lame by all standards. :)
        I got all the haters figured out , it took me awhile but I got it.
        I was only sampling your site to get info on the Raptor nation, but as I got onto other sites I found that actually over 75 % of fans really like the guy, they like his game and they know the more consistent minutes he plays the better he is.
        I was gauging all on what you guys say, I feel most haters are just jealous specially now that Miss sunshine decided to wear # 21 for her sexy pics. lol
        Some of you hate that the guy is rich, young and handsome and hangs out with the bachelor Juan Pablo and many other celebrities.
        LOL….I just did not get it or I would of been more kind to you all..lol.. from now on the only answer I’ll give to Vasquez bashing is:
        Hope for a good game tonight, I know your posse will be pulling for Vaz to suck, hey you always got deColo as a backup…. all is well.
        This is fun!

        • Boner Patrol

          You don’t have anything figured out. This is a lot less to do with Vasquez-bashing and more to do with pulling your leg, because of your obvious love affair with the guy (something you’ve proven again by your response. Why you know that he hangs out with ‘the bachelor’ I don’t wish to know). I actually don’t mind GV, but the fact that you went on another rant about him being handsome just re-affirms my original point. Cold shower, bro… Use it.

          • MoPeteRules

            Whenever I read anything asifyouknow says, I imagine he’s a Latino version of that creepy Italian guy from the movie Eurotrip. He’d try giving Greivus a back rub and Greivus would be like “what the hell are you doing?!” and he’d just be like “Scuzzi, scuzzi!”

            • asifyouknow

              I understand my dear brother

          • asifyouknow


        • CJT

          I find it funny that you accuse people of being haters only a few comments after you were hating on the coach. When you do it it’s not hating right, it’s just constructing criticism. Walk the walk.

          • asifyouknow

            I understand my dear brother,,,,

    • Louvens Remy

      I like Asifyouknow. He knows what he’s talking about. Gravy is really good. just doesn’t have the foot speed on defence. We are lucky to have such a competent guard to come in when the Philly Bulldog is out.

      • Abused Raptors Fan

        See, I’ve said exactly that countless times before. Asifyouknow’s problem is that he’s incapable of recognizing Vasquez’ s deficiencies, and as a result, regularly criticizes other commenters for being “silly haters”

  • bizzy

    I hate the starters…i cringe whenever i see em. there a bunch of hipsters that probably got their asses kicked in high school and you can bet your giraffe on that.

    • Adriiian

      yeah, agreed. look like a bunch of fags.

  • Abused Raptors Fan

    The Pacers recent struggles was the main reason I was actually worried about this game. Had they been on a multi game losing streak, I felt that they’d view this as an absolute must-win game. Fortunately, their wins against Detroit and Miami broke that losing streak up. Even still, I see a win tonight being a foregone conclusion, as the Pacers have dominated this matchup for a while now, which should boost their confidence heading into the game. There have been significant changes to the team’s play style, performance and roster, so its not as though the Pacers have owned this Raptors team, but confidence isn’t always rational or justified. Here’s hoping that the Raptors maintain some of the momentum from the game against the Rockets, especially from the bench, and pull out a win tonight!

    • asifyouknow

      You mean the bench has something to do with the Raptors winning record and their playoff run?
      I would of never guess that !..Haaa who would of thought……. Strange !

      • Abused Raptors Fan

        Cognitive dissonance theory states the human desire for internal consistency often produces psychological discomfort or distress when an individual encounter situations or information which contradict their personal beliefs. As a result, we tend to avoid or ignore such situations and information in an attempt to maintain our internal consistency. As someone who does not view Vasquez as one of the league’s preeminent pgs, I have often pointed out his deficiencies (while also offering praise in the name of objectivity) in the comments section here at RR. So, its not very surprising to me that you failed to notice or remember much of anything other than my “silly”, “Vasquez-hating” slander.

      • Philbertina

        You’re a D-Bag

  • Pedro-

    A win today will pretty much guarantee HCA. There is no way the Nets can catch us with only 6 relatively easy games remaining. At this moment I don’t really know which team would be a better match up for us:- WAS or NETS?

    • Hassan Mehmood Khan

      Washington for sure, the nets experience could hurt us

    • GoingBig

      Magic # of 5 – a total of Toronto wins and Brooklyn losses

      Still think it will be difficult to hold off Chicago – especially with a loss to Indiana
      CHI games left to play
      WASH – will be striving and have beaten CHI twice since January 1st
      NY – Hot as late but will find CHI defence toxic

  • Meow

    Does RR have an update on TV listings in the ticker above? Still saying “TBD”. Just some feedback – if pregames reiterated what channel to find the raps on it would be awesome!

    • ibleedpurple

      games on TSN tonite

      • cdub

        sweet. I almost had to stop watching after all those sportsnet games in a row with Leo it was like being punished having to listen to him so much. hes better suited for the studio with rod.

  • Ds

    There’s a double advantage to winning against the Pacers tonight. First, we solidify the 3rd position, with 6 relatively easy games remaining. Second, we push consolidate the Pacers’s drop to 2nd, which would likely be our second-round match-up. Better them than the Heat, that’s for sure.

    • c_bcm

      lets not get too far ahead of ourselves. I think this team would be VERY lucky to get out of the first round.

      • Abused Raptors Fan

        While I agree that there are too many undecided factors to start raising the division title banner and celebrating a first round win, saying they’d be “VERY lucky” just to get out of the first round is a bit foolish as well

        • c_bcm

          This team has very little playoff experience, especially with the key cogs in the wheel. We have an All Star who has demonstrated on numerous occasions that he may wilt under pressure. We haven’t beaten Charlotte all season, NY and Brooklyn are finishing the season strong, and we are looking a little banged up at the moment.

          Which of these two options is more likely: 1) winning the first round series is a forgone conclusion, so lets think ahead to who we will face in the second round; 2) an unproven limping team is heading into the playoffs and we should all be hoping we win a couple of games.

          All i’m saying is, let’s manage our expectations a little bit. Its a healthier approach to being a Raptors fan.

          • Abused Raptors Fan

            Managing expectations is exactly what I’m promoting, but that goes both ways. Your first comment made a first round loss seem like a foregone conclusion. And, given a lack of evidence to objectively support either opinion, its best that we fans avoid taking anything for granted. That said, the play of NY at this point is completely inconsequential in terms of first round playoff implications for the Raptors, while Charolette still has an outside chance of moving up to 6th

      • Wes mantooth

        You seem to be taking our last two games against the Knicks very lightly. There 12 and 3 in there last 15 and scraping there way to the playoffs. Those are gonna be tough games if NYC is still in the mix by then.
        We all know how badly the nba wants a Knicks heat round 1.

  • Ted

    Psycho T vs David West will be wonderful to watch if Casey uses Tyler.

    • asifyouknow

      Hans is made for this game. He needs to play, lets see what mood Casey is in tonight. It all depends on what his WIGI board said this morning. I have no clue why this guy makes the moves he does. He MICRO manages everything and takes the personality out of the player.

      • Ted

        Ur right although with Casey you never know. This is a perfect game for Tyler to get 25+mins. The Pacers play big, so that means Novak shouldn’t see a min of action.

      • CJT

        It’s amazing that this clown has managed this team to a winning record in a year we were supposed to be a lottery team. What a bunch of terrible decisions by a terrible coach.

  • thegloveinrapsuniform

    im scared that this will turn out as: “Seems like the only thing they needed were the Raptors to get back on track” as it usually happened in the past

    • jakdripr

      That was also back when we were an awful defensive team. I’m not writing this off as a win(I mean these dudes did beat the heat a few nights back) but I’m almost 100% certain their offensive struggles aren’t going to get fixed by a match-up against our defence.

  • Quest

    we really need this game today. the Bulls are playing the bucks, so if we can get this game under our belt, it will be smooth sailing from here on out. our games after today are against Detroit, NYK x2, Bucks x2 and Sixers.
    Let’s end the year on a 8 game winstreak.

    • Abused Raptors Fan

      The Knicks have been playing MUCH BETTER basketball recently, so idk if I’m quite ready to declare this our best season (record-wise) yet lol

      • Ogi

        We have seven games left and I doubt we’ll lose to the Knicks twice. If we take care of business even with a loss tonight we’re right on track

        • Abused Raptors Fan

          Actually, if we win tonight, we could still lose both of those games and beat the franchise record of 47 wins! I just don’t think we’ll take both games against them with their improved play and our injuries (in terms of missed games, or the need to rest or reintegrate some of our players).

  • ckh26

    So here are some either super stats or mildly interesting tidbits of no particular interest to anyone but me
    – Indy 8 and 10 for the month of March
    – Something rancid in the lockerroom that has the Pacers going after each other as much as their opponents
    – Not counting the OT game they have been over 90 points once in the last two weeks and have racked up 5 games with total points in the … 70’s ! weak even by Bulls standards for offense.
    – there is the potential for Lance Stephenson to pick a fight with an usher during shootaround and get ejected even before he exchanges pleasantries with Physco T during the game

    What does this mean… It means we are going to have a real shot and loading another W into the win column tonite. We are getting Indy in on a flat spot and they haven’t righted the ship yet… Raps by 6.

  • Ltron

    Can we play this during warm-up to mess with P.G?


  • Bryan Colangelo

    Man, was trading Granger away a misstep. He really was the glue-guy for the team and it’s shocking to see how weak mentally the Pacers have been since then. Not to mention the fact that there’s not many 3 and D guys that can step in off the bench with the mobility and strength to guard 2, 3, and 4s.

    I like our chances against these guys in the playoffs. They have all the talent they need to reach the finals but we are much more cohesive mentally as a team.

  • Louvens Remy

    Paul George is lazy. Reminds me of Rudy Gay.

    • asifyouknow

      True that!

    • jjdynomite

      His mannerisms may be lazy but he actually passes the ball.

  • Louvens Remy

    The Raps have always matched up well against the Pacers when both teams are at full strength. I’m more scared of the Bullets and their ability to play inside out then I am of the Pacers to be honest.

  • KJ-B

    Very well written Mr. Thompson. Not over-the-top sensationalism.

    Good mix of facts n flow.

  • bobmasa

    If Canadian sports media dosnt respect Toronto Raptors do you expect any respect from America media? These Tim & Sid, 590 and other Canadian sports channels are all B/S yes Canada is a hockey country but dont they see Toronto Raptors putting this country on the map? Whats wrong with these people? Can we call those channels are sports channels spending all day talking about hockey and baseball and verry little or nothing about Raptors let Charles Barkley and Shaq do what there doing.

    • jjdynomite

      Actually Tim & Sid do well to cover the Raptors and the NBA pretty well. They had Butch Carter on today (spewing clueless inanities like Don “No Titles” Nelson is the best coach ever to coach in the NBA). But yes, until the old guard dies off (executives over 50) that’s just gonna be the way it is.

  • asifyouknow

    A parting stats ..Good Night:

    The last three times Greivis Vasquez has played 30+ minutes, he’s ave..at 20.6 pts, 6.6 asts, 3.6 rebs.