The Raptors set to take on the Pacers in a late evening start. When last these two teams met, the Raptors squandered their chances thanks to yet another back-to-back. It's time to avenge a wasted chance!
The Raptors should easily beat the Indiana Pacers.
Whether they're smart enough to is a different story.
In two games against the Pacers, the Raptors managed to create a huge lead sometime before the half before succumbing partially once and fully another to the Pacers' offensive prowess. Make no mistake. In my mind, the Raptors should have won both games handily, and it brings me great disappointment that I have to recount that one game was nearly given away, but was saved because the Raptors kept their offense going down the stretch, and another game was given away thanks to mismanaged minutes and a cold shooting spell in the second half.
Which is why I hope the Raptors really stomp on the Pacers and blow them out in a landslide.
That is not to say that the Pacers are without talent. Guys like Troy Murphy, Danny Granger, and Mike Dunleavy have all given the Raptors ample issues in the past. But then again, the Raptors seem to get away from their inside game when playing against the Pacers which is where their problems start.
That's why the three keys today are going to focus on how the Raptors have failed in the past.
1) Sacking Troy
Troy Murphy always has big games against the Raptors and it's always the Raptors' own fault. After many years of chucking 20-20 games at the Raptors, the Raptors have simply got to put a man that just sticks on the hot shooter at all times. Andrea Bargnani should know the dangers of leaving a tall shooter out on the perimeter and CB4 should understand the need to box him out. However, I won't say that today's game will absolutely hinge on this point, but just that the Raptors have to do a much more serviceable job on the guy.
2) Keeping the game plan consistent
Indiana is weak on the inside and there's just no reason that the Raptors should not keep attacking the Pacers up the middle. If Andrea Bargnani is not feeling 100% with his foot injury, the Raptors should not be afraid to go with Rasho Nesterovic in extended minutes throughout the game. Nesterovic was quite effective against the Pacers in their last meeting, but for some reason, Triano decided not to use him in the second half of a back-to-back situation. Both Bargnani and Bosh have to keep up the work on the inside throughout the game and they simply must demand the ball when they have deep post position. In addition, Hedo Turkoglu and the point guards have to be unafraid of using dribble penetration to further expose Indiana's weak interior.
3) No lead is safe until it's insurmountable
A 20 point lead sounds like plenty, but with the Raptors already having showed that can allow Indiana players to catch fire, they should be wary of the Pacers' tenacity. When Danny Granger was in the middle of scoring slump, it was a technical foul and some choice words against Sonny Weems which awakened the scoring ability of the Pacers' top player. Therefore, the Raptors should not forget the lessons they've learned in the past. Indiana is a team that they have to keep pressure on for the full 48 minutes in order to continue their momentum. This is not a team that they should lose again to and would negate all the good feelings from beating the Lakers a week ago.