The Raptors will face the Pacers tonight on the second night of a back-to-back in Indiana. Toronto edged out the Pacers 107-102 on Sunday afternoon, inspired by an OG Anunoby 30-point offensive surge.
The Pacers, sitting in the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference and boasting a 9-7 record, are one of the more intriguing teams in the East. Indiana is led by young stars Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon, with the exciting addition of fourth-year guard Caris LeVert to join the team once he comes back from injury. The Pacers lead the league in points scored in the paint (55.7 PPG), mostly thanks to a starting five that includes a big front-court, pairing two 6’11 players in Sabonis and Myles Turner.
While this size helps them in the paint on both ends, it can be exposed on the perimeter by smaller lineups, as seen throughout most of Sunday’s game against the Raptors. Toronto’s quick ball movement to find open shooters behind the arc kept the Pacers scrambling, with their bigger players struggling to close out. Look for the Raptors to play small in tonight’s game as well.
Toronto will also look to replicate their defensive effort from Sunday’s game, which included aggressive and physical defence against Sabonis by Anunoby and Stanley Johnson. Sabonis, who is averaging 21.7 points-per-game this season, was held to just 1-10 shooting from the field, visibly rattled by the pesky smaller defenders guarding him. While it is still unclear if Pascal Siakam will be active tonight after missing Sunday’s contest, expect to see the Anunoby-Johnson combo guarding Sabonis again.
Tonight’s game is also a chance for Nick Nurse to go up 2-0 in the season series against his longtime friend and former Raptors assistant coach Nate Bjorkgren, who was hired as the Pacers head coach this past offseason.