The Indiana Pacers know their postseason hunt is all but over, but that hasn’t affected their recent play.
The Pacers search for their sixth victory in eight games Wednesday night at home against the Toronto Raptors, who are trying for a season-high third straight road win.
Indiana (33-44) has scored 100 points in five straight contests and shot 50.0 percent or better in each of the last four, but is four games behind Detroit for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff berth with five games left. A loss and a Pistons win over New York on Wednesday would eliminate the Pacers from the playoff race for a third straight season.
However, leading scorer Danny Granger said the team has plenty left to play for.
“As a collective unit, we didn’t want to finish the season on a sour note - regardless of whether we’re going to make the playoffs or we’re not,” he said. “We’ve still got to play every game. … We’ve just been putting it together lately. We’ve been hitting on all cylinders on the offensive end.”
After seeing their three-game home win streak snapped Friday night with a 126-121 loss to San Antonio, the Pacers bounced back with a 117-99 win in Oklahoma City on Sunday night.
Though Granger’s’ run of 30-point games came to an end at four, his 24 points led six Pacers in double figures.
The All-Star swingman, whose 25.3 points per game rank sixth in the league, is ending his breakthrough season on a strong note by averaging 30.6 in the last five games. Granger has averaged 22.5 points in two starts against the Raptors despite shooting only 34.7 percent in those contests.
Troy Murphy, whose 45 double-doubles are two short of Clark Kellogg’s Pacers single-season record from 1982-83, has recorded three straight against the Raptors, including his only career 20-20 performance on Dec. 10.
The Pacers have given up 100 points or more in eight straight meetings with Toronto, losing six of them. With wins in two of three meetings this season, the Raptors are looking to take the series for a third straight year. However, they fell 111-104 in their previous trip to Indiana on Jan. 16.
After home loss Sunday night to New York ended Toronto’s postseason chances, the Raptors (30-47) fell 118-110 to visiting Atlanta on Tuesday night, when they allowed the Hawks to hit 11 3-pointers and outrebound them 37-27.
“The thing that hurt us most was the second-chance points, and they got 3s on the second-chance points,” Raptors coach Jay Triano said. “Over the past seven games is, we have won the battle on the boards seven times. To lose that battle today, it was the 11 offensive rebounds they got.”
Chris Bosh led the Raptors with 21 points, shot 10 of 12, and grabbed 10 rebounds to reach 40 double-doubles for the second time in his career. Bosh, two shy of his career-high 42 double-doubles set in 2006-07, has recorded three straight against Indiana and reached double-digit points and rebounds in 12 of the last 14 meetings with the Pacers.
Toronto has not won three straight on the road since Dec. 11-18, 2007, a streak that included a win in Indiana.