It was just six days ago when the Toronto Raptors put an end to the Indiana Pacers‘ five-game win streak and started their new year off on a sour note. Now the Pacers get their chance to enact revenge upon a Raptors team who just saw their own five-game win streak snapped on Sunday.
With a league best 16-1 home record, beating the Pacers at home has become a tall task for any team this season, including Toronto who lost at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Nov. 8.
Tonight’s matchup will have an interesting twist as both squads had flight issues due to the snowpocalypse that hit Indiana yesterday. The Pacers were stranded in Cleveland for most of the day and the Raptors opted to stay in Miami – smart choice – overnight and fly in this morning.
Indiana recently showed what they can do when they play tired, and it wasn’t pretty. They shot a season-low 36.4 percent against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, nearly blowing a normal 16-point lead in the fourth quarter.
The last meeting between these two squads turned into a how-to video on beating the Pacers. Toronto forced 23 turnovers – season-high for the Pacers – which resulted in 32 points, including 17 fast break points. The Raptors also played a smash-mouth defense that held Paul George to 12 points, Lance Stephenson to eight and put Roy Hibbert in foul trouble early resulting in only 21 minutes played.
If the Pacers want to win Tuesday, then they will need George and Stephenson to breakdown the defense while Hibbert needs to put Jonas Valanciunas in foul trouble and stay out of foul trouble himself. They will also need to figure out how to stop DeMar DeRozan, who dropped 26 on them last game and is averaging 24.0 points over his last three games.
It may be an ugly game, which neither team is unfamiliar with at this point, but the winner will be the one who plays just a smidge better. Last time it was the Raptors, but it’s hard to pick against the Pacers at home. Either way, get ready for an entertaining matchup between the league’s best team and a surging Eastern Conference team with nothing to lose.