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Raptors Look to Get Back on Track Against the Struggling Pacers

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The Raptors suffered a frustrating loss to the Cavaliers last time out, but a visit from the once-formidable Indiana Pacers squad could be just what they need to get back on track.

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Team Records: TOR (16-6, 10-3 Home); IND (7-15, 3-8 Road)

Where to Watch: TSN (7:30 PM EST)

It's been a rough stretch for the Raptors in the seven games DeMar DeRozan's been injured. Or maybe that's just relative to the ridiculous hot start they'd gotten off to this season. A 3-4 record in a tough stretch of games isn't catastrophic, and only one of those losses was inexcusable (against the Lakers).

The cushion the Raptors had built up at the top of the Eastern Conference now sits at only a half game advantage over Atlanta and Washington. The once-vaunted defense has routinely given up over 100 points and dropped out of the top 10 in D-Rating. DeRozan's presence is missed in this regard as well. It's not that he's a particularly good defender one on one, but he's sound and disciplined in Casey's scheme, and is in general, a much better defender than Greivis Vasquez. That could've been why we saw Landry Fields finally take Vasquez's spot in the starting line-up, as Dwane Casey looks to find some defensive solidity.

On that note, you know what's nice when your team's struggling to play defense? Playing the third worst offense in the league in terms of points per possession. The Indiana Pacers have dropped off dramatically from the Eastern Conference Finals-calibre team they had last year. They obviously miss Paul George and Lance Stephenson, but injuries to other key players have also hampered their chemistry. Their current starting lineup includes Solomon Hill, Rodney Stuckey and Chris Copeland. What was last year's top ranked defense is also just middle-of-the-road this time around.

In all, this is one the Raptors should be able to take, but it will be an intriguing game nonetheless.

Thoughts?