The Indiana Pacers (47-32) recovered from the loss of their five-game win streak following a close 107-104 road defeat to the Denver Nuggets in some style. In their first game back home after a four-game road trip, they delivered a huge 126-106 beatdown on the Golden State Warriors. It was their second win over the Warriors in a span of a couple of weeks after they also took them down 92-81 at Oracle Arena.
Bojan Bogdanovic out-dueled Kevin Durant as he exploded for a team-high 28 points on 11-of-13 shooting from the field and 6-of-7 from beyond the arc. Victor Oladipo had a strong all-around game with 21 points, six rebounds, and seven assists, while Thaddeus Young also did the same with 16 points, eight boards, and five assists.
The Pacers will now play the Toronto Raptors (56-22), who have just about secured home-court advantage in the East with an impressive 96-78 win over the Boston Celtics. It was the type of convincing win the team needed after a thoroughly unconvincing stretch where they went 3-5 in their past eight games with losses to both the Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
DeMar DeRozan was one of four Raptors in double figures with 16 points. Serge Ibaka had 15 points and six boards. Meanwhile, the bench point guard duo of Fred VanVleet and Delon Wright was spectacular. VanVleet had 15 points and four assists, while Wright stuffed the stat sheet with eight points, nine boards, eight assists, two blocks, and two steals.
Three keys to the game
Kyle Lowry - The two teams’ All-Star shooting guards, Oladipo and DeRozan, have generally delivered in the previous three matchups. However, the same can’t be said of the Raptors’ All-Star floor general, Kyle Lowry. His recent performances have dipped significantly. But when he’s on his game and contributing, the Raptors reach another level that the Pacers will struggle to match.
Bojan Bogdanovic - Speaking of being on another level, Bogdanovic has been on fire recently. He’s averaging 20 points on well over 50 percent shooting in his last seven games, which has unsurprisingly coincided with their recent win streak. However, Bojan has not fared so well against the Raptors, scoring just 12 total points on a horrific 3-of-21 in the last two games, which were both Pacers losses. But if he can provide that scoring spark alongside Oladipo, the Pacers’ chances of causing the upset on the road increase significantly.
Raptors bench - Toronto’s recent struggles have come in part because their outstanding bench has fallen off just a little. However, the Celtics game showed just how impactful they can be if they’re on their game. If they can once again play that way against a relatively shallow Pacers team, they should be in good shape to get another home win.
Matchup to watch
Victor Oladipo vs DeMar DeRozan - No surprise here. Dipo and DeRozan have both been amazing for their respective teams this season. But while Dipo has had the edge in his personal matchup with DeRozan, the Raptors have the edge in terms of wins. Oladipo will look to correct that as he and the Pacers aim to carry as much positive momentum into the postseason as possible.
Pacers projected starting lineup
PG - Darren Collison | SG - Victor Oladipo | SF - Bojan Bogdanovic | PF - Thaddeus Young | C - Myles Turner
Raptors projected starting lineup
PG - Kyle Lowry | SG - DeMar DeRozan | SF - OG Anunoby | PF - Serge Ibaka | C - Jonas Valanciunas
Oladipo is obviously a star and Bogdanovic has been on fire of late, but don’t sleep on Thad Young turning in a huge fantasy night. He’s been on a good roll of late, putting up 14.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.7 steals over his last ten games. Moreover, he’s had four steals in two of his three meetings with Toronto this year.
As for the Raps, Jonas Valanciunas is probably the best outside shot at being a fantasy stud. He’s coming off an entire month where he averaged nearly 16 points and ten boards per game. That included a monstrous 16-point, 18-board, four-block masterclass in a win against the Pacers, who have had their problems defending opposing big men all year long.
While the Raptors looked good against the Celtics and have been excellent at home (32-7), they have been awful against the spread (1-9 ATS in their last ten). They now face a Pacers team that's been playing some exceptional basketball recently. Take Indiana to cover the 7.5-point spread.
The Pacers give Toronto all they can handle, but Raptors just about squeeze out another home win, 101-97.
This game will be broadcast on SportsNet One and Fox Sports Indiana. Tip-off is at 7:30 pm Eastern.