Raptors-Pacers Preview


After spending some extra time in warmer weather, the Toronto Raptors will try to stifle the league-leading Indiana Pacers for the second time in a week.

The Raptors, though, will play Tuesday night's rematch in chilly Indiana, where the Pacers have lost just once this season.

Toronto (16-16) beat Indiana 95-82 on New Year's Day - the Pacers' only loss in their last eight games - as part of a season-high five-game win streak that was snapped with a 102-97 loss in Miami on Sunday. With snow and bitter cold lingering in the Midwest, the Raptors chose to stay in South Florida until Monday.

"It's no difference to us," leading scorer DeMar DeRozan said. "We understand we have to prepare for Indiana either way (Monday), either if we were here or there. We understand what's up. It really doesn't matter."

Toronto is hoping that move leads to another strong performance against Indiana (27-6). The Raptors caused the Pacers to commit a season-high 23 turnovers and record their lowest point total of the season. Paul George scored only 12, two off his season low.

"We're going to go out there and battle with the best of them," DeRozan said after that game. "We don't care who is out there in front of us, we understand that they are going to throw a punch and we're going to throw punches back."

Indiana has won back-to-back contests since that loss and had to overcome another subpar offensive performance Sunday in Cleveland. The Pacers matched that season-low scoring effort from the loss in Toronto, shot a season-worst 36.4 percent and nearly blew a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter in an 82-78 victory.

Indiana, though, held Cleveland to 34.2 percent shooting.

"There was no style points tonight. None. Zero. I can assure you of that. Unless you like defense. Our defense was pretty strong most of the night," coach Frank Vogel said.

The Pacers, allowing league lows of 88.6 points and 41.1 percent shooting, limited Toronto to 39.5 percent in the most recent meeting in Indiana and won 91-84 on Nov. 8. The Raptors had won their previous two games there, but this Pacers team is a league-best 16-1 at home.

Toronto, though, has won seven of nine away from home and 10 of 14 overall since it began the process of trading Rudy Gay to Sacramento as part of a seven-player deal. With 30 points, Gay was the only player to score more than 12 in the loss at Indiana in November, but the Raptors had four players with 13 or more in the New Year's victory, led by DeRozan's 26.

DeRozan is averaging 24.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the last three games, but he's often struggled at Indianapolis. He's shot 30.7 percent in seven career games there - his worst showing in any city - and his 37.5 percent shooting in 14 matchups with the Pacers is his lowest versus any Eastern Conference opponent.

Roy Hibbert, meanwhile, has made 22 of his last 34 shots against Toronto (64.7 percent) and averaged 18.0 points in the last three meetings.

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