Indiana is the only unbeaten team remaining in the league and there are a number of things Toronto will have to do to leave The Hoosier State with a win. Here are three:
1) Get quality shots: We're five games into the season and this team has surprisingly struggled on the offensive side of the ball. The Raptors have become pretty good at getting bad shots off at various points in the shot clock and they often resort to a Gay or DeRozan isolation when things aren't quite going their way. Ball movement, spacing and getting out on the fast break can all help generate better looks. And perhaps establishing Jonas Valanciunas early on would help. The big Lithuanian didn’t see the court in the fourth quarter against the Bobcats and Indiana are one of the lengthier teams in the NBA. Roy Hibbert looks to be a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate while guys like Luis Scola and David West aren’t slouches by any stretch of the imagination.
2) Get Gay going early: Gay hasn’t started the season well and fans hope that he’ll find a way out of this shooting slump sooner than later. He turned in another indifferent performance against the Bobcats and shot a 8 of 21 from the floor. The best way for a scorer to get out of a funk is to get it going, obviously, and the best way to get a scorer going is to call his number early and often. Gay should shoulder some of the early offensive load and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him on the block and in the post causing defenders problems with his length. The Pacers play some of the best team defence in the league and if Gay can have a solid game tonight it could break him out of this funk.
3) Match their bench: The most noticeable change in this year’s Pacers team is the strength of their bench. Scola, C.J. Watson, Lance Stephenson (who was on the team last year) and Chris Copeland are all high-energy players that give Indiana something extra when their starters sit on the bench. Dwane Casey’s rotations have come under some criticism recently and it should be intriguing to see the kind of lineups he uses at various points in the game.
Oh, and Tyler Hansbrough and D.J Augustin play their former team. In case you needed yet another reason to stay in on a Friday night.