The end of Toronto’s road trip is nigh.
One last stop in the Hoosier State, where Toronto and Indiana will meet for the 3rd of 4 matchups this season (that’s 15% of Toronto’s total games thus far – odd).
It’s been a tumultuous odyssey for Toronto.
Let a W in Portland slip through their hands. Then…
Back-and-forth Toronto has gone.
There’s a lot of good to be taken away. The Raptors have beaten the teams that are equal to (Memphis) or lesser than (Sacramento) handily. Utah and Golden State are unforgiving elder statesmen; one must be on their best behaviour or risk an L.
All the while, injuries have maimed the roster.
Of the 5 games, the following Raps missed time:
- OG Anunoby: 4
- Yuta Watanabe: 4
- Precious Achuiwa: 2
- Khem Birch: 1
- Chris Boucher: 1 (not including the games he was present but vacant)
In that stretch, Toronto had the worst defensive rebounding and had the worst defensive field goal percentage within 6 feet of the hoop. We know how OG cauterizes perimeter gaps; on Wednesday, we saw how Yuta can do the same. Having a limited “centre” rotation was the death knell.
Healthy and vibin’, perhaps a couple of wins are in order.
Cute. Toronto’s 12th in the East; Indiana’s 13th.
A couple of basement buddies in a basketball bout.
Well, less basement, more sunken den:
a quarter way through the NBA season and 11 Eastern Conference teams are separated by 3.0 games. In other words, the 12th place Raptors are 3.0 games behind the 2nd place Heat. Wild.
— Oren Weisfeld (@OrenWeisfeld) November 25, 2021
Indiana’s had a similar up-and-down last little while too. Only recently, have they had most of their core (more on TJ in a second) all healthy and playing together.
Indiana should be on a 3-game winning streak. They were down 3 against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night when Chris Duarte – Scottie Barnes’ current ROY nemesis – pulled up for a baseline, fadeaway 3 with 5 seconds left in the game:
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) November 25, 2021
Well, yes, but no.
The foul wasn’t called. Lakers went to OT and pulled out the win with a LeBronamance.
After the game, the NBA clarified the “ERROR” (AKA keeping the Lakers relevant):
And that’s how conspiracies live on…
Anyways, Indiana’s playing better of late. They narrowly lost to Charlotte and the Lakers and, utterly, creamed New Orleans and Chicago.
The Pacers just seem to be doing more of what they always do: steady as she goes.
Offensively, they’re middle of the road: 10th in at-rim attempts and 16th in both mid-range and three-point attempts. They’re 13th, 15th, and 12th in field goal percentage from those respective spots on the court.
That might be a consequence of not having all their guys healthy. Caris Levert missed 8 games; Brogdon 5; TJ Warren, the missing piece of their perimeter attack, still hasn’t played this year. In the meantime, Duarte’s rookie year has been a huge boon for them. He’s 5th in points and 1st in 3 pointers-made for all rookies.
On defence, they’ve allowed the 2nd fewest number of 3s and lead the league in blocks. They run guys off the line and funnel them into their Turner/Sabonis palisade. Guys like Brogdon and McConnell are well-equipped to harangue high above the arc and force ball handlers rimward – though, they do give up a lot of free throws. Other than the 121 points they gave up to Charlotte and 124 in OT to LA, Indiana’s defence has stifled teams of late.
Scoring’s not been a problem for Toronto on this road trip. They have the 6th best offensive rating in the last five games; Indiana has the 3rd best defensive rating in that same span.
A hot and cold front is about to conflagrate upon the plains of the Mid-West.
Tip-Off: 8:00pm EST | TV: TSN; TSN 4; BSN | Radio: Sportsnet 590
OG Anunoby (hip pointer) is questionable. Khem Birch (knee) is out.
PG: Fred VanVleet, Dalano Banton, Malachi Flynn, Goran Dragić
SG: Gary Trent Jr, Svi Mykhailiuk
SF: Scottie Barnes, Yuta Watanabe, Justin Champagnie
PF: Pascal Siakam, Chris Boucher
C: Precious Achuiwa
TJ Warren (foot) is out. Caris LeVert (back) missed the game against the Lakers, but looks to be a go.
PG: Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. McConnell, Brad Wanamaker, Duane Washington Jr.
SG: Chris Duarte, Jeremy Lamb, Kelan Martin
SF: Justin Holiday, Torrey Craig, DeJon Jarreau
PF: Domantas Sabonis, Oshae Brissett, Isaiah Jackson
C: Myles Turner, Goga Bitadze
Moneyline: -110 both teams
Spread: Raps +2.5
Adon’s thoughts: Raps are 11-8 in O/U. The last time they met they didn’t even crack 190. The Raps have struggled against good defensive teams. No Birch bodes unwell. I’m feeling a tight one.
Conclusion: Pacers -110; Raps +2.5; Under.
Bet wisely, friends.