Toronto (27-36) at Indiana (47-16)

  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Tue Mar 9, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Having already clinched a playoff berth, the Indiana Pacers have shifted their focus to securing home-court advantage.

The Pacers will look to extend their winning streak to six games when they host the Toronto Raptors.

With wins in eight of its last nine overall, Indiana now leads the league with 47 victories.

The Pacers lead Detroit by 7 1/2 games for the top spot in the Central Division. New Jersey leads the Atlantic Division, but trails Indiana by 8 1/2 games for the East’s best record.

Jermaine O’Neal had 31 points and 10 rebounds as the Pacers clinched their seventh straight playoff berth with a 103-94 victory over Denver on Sunday. Indiana has made the playoffs in 14 of the last 15 seasons.

Anthony Johnson added 21 points for the Pacers, who shot 50 percent from the floor.

“This is a mature team,” O’Neal said. “We focus and we know what the task is at hand.”

O’Neal has been the Pacers’ top player all season, averaging 20.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game.

O’Neal had 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead Indiana to an 83-77 win over Toronto at the Air Canada Centre on Feb. 6 in the teams’ only meeting this season.

Toronto is tied with Miami, a half-game out of the final playoff spot in the East.

The Raptors have lost 10 of their last 12 with both wins coming in the last four contests.

Vince Carter had 26 points, including a buzzer-beater from beyond midcourt to end the third quarter, as Toronto snapped a seven-game home losing streak with a 84-76 victory over New Orleans on Sunday.

Rookie Chris Bosh added 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Raptors.

Toronto has lost five of its last six against Indiana.

STANDINGS (through March 7): Raptors - 5th place (tied), 20 GB, Central Division. Pacers - 1st place, Central Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Raptors - F Carter, F Donyell Marshall, C Bosh, G Dion Glover, G Milt Palacio. Pacers - F O’Neal, F Ron Artest, C Jeff Foster, G Johnson, G Reggie Miller.

TEAM LEADERS: Raptors - Carter, 21.5 ppg and 4.9 apg; Marshall, 9.6 rpg. Pacers - O’Neal, 20.6 ppg and 10.2 rpg; Jamaal Tinsley, 5.5 apg.

SEASON SERIES: Pacers, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 6; Pacers, 83-77. At Toronto, Artest scored 27 points, O’Neal added 20 and Al Harrington had 19 to lead the Pacers. Marshall had 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Raptors - 12-20 on the road; Pacers - 24-6 at home.

INJURIES: Raptors - G Jalen Rose (hand); G Alvin Williams (knee); F Michael Bradley (knee). Pacers - G Jamison Brewer (toe); C Primoz Brezec (hamstring); F James Jones (leg).

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