A win is a win, right?
This time, the Toronto Raptors survived another game of attrition against the Indiana Pacers, beating Indy 97-94. It wasn’t pretty — especially in the half-court setting, as both teams combined to shoot just under 43% from the field. The Raptors just had enough offensively, as Scottie Barnes led the way with 21 points and 12 rebounds, including 11 points in the fourth quarter. Svi Mykhailiuk had his best game for the Raptors, as he poured in 16 points off the bench.
The Pacers welcomed back their best offensive player in Caris LeVert, who dropped 15 points in 16 minutes. Luckily for the Raptors, LeVert appeared to be on minutes restriction and did not see the floor in the second half. Domantas Sabonis would bounce back from the embarrassing stat line against the Raptors a few days ago, and he was a force with 22 points, 14 rebounds, and three steals. Myles Turner provided solid interior defense for the Pacers as he blocked five shots and deterred a whole bunch more.
Coach Nick Nurse had a few interesting moves tonight — partially driven by the SEGABABA (second game of a back-to-back) situation. Gary Trent Jr appeared not to have it tonight, and he would sit for long stretches of the game (that, and Svi “Ukraine Maker” Mykhailiuk went off). Precious Achiuwa’s erratic play perhaps contributed to his early night off, as he never saw the court again after three-and-a-half minutes in the second half. But hey, we got a Malachi Flynn sighting!
The Raptors have now won three straight games and are one game over .500. The last time this happened was when they easily handled the Philadelphia 76ers back on February 21, 2021, before things got ugly last season.
Confidence on a hundred thousand, trillion pic.twitter.com/MBtDRTvkcq— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 31, 2021
LeVert made his season debut, and he displayed no signs of rust, making his presence felt to start the game; he had nine of the Pacers’ 13 points early on. The Raptors looked sluggish, turning the ball over four times, going up 13-6. The Raptors would go on a 12-2 run to take the lead at 18-15, holding the Pacers to 1/9 shooting over a four minute stretch. The Trent + bench lineup struggled to do anything productive on the half court set over the next few possessions, allowing the Pacers to take a 25-22 lead at the end of the quarter.
The Raptors’ offensive struggles would continue through the second quarter, and the Pacers would briefly go up by seven, as LeVert either looked unstoppable, or his gravity was creating opportunities for his teammates. Sabonis must be loving LeVert’s presence, as he’s up to ten points at this point. However, the Raptors would hustle their way back with an 11-3 run to take the lead back behind Mykhailiuk and Chris Boucher’s production. The Raptors and the Pacers would refuse to let the other team jump ahead as they traded baskets, including this one from Mykhailiuk:
SVI COOKIN' 'EM pic.twitter.com/2erphFnvtX— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 31, 2021
The last couple minutes of the half was an eye-sore, as both teams combined to shoot 0-9 and a bunch of “what the hell is this guy doing” moves. the half ended with the Pacers up 47-46.
The Pacers started the second half with LeVert on the bench. Still, the Raptors could not capitalize as it felt like Myles Turner was blocking anything near the rim. Justin Holiday filled in for LeVert to start the half, and he dropped five quick points. There was very little flow to this game on both sides, as both teams alternated between playing excellent defense, playing on heavy legs.
Anunoby would go on a 5-0 run, but a Jeremy Lamb transition three would tie the game at 61 apiece. Former Raptor Oshae Brissett would provide some spark for the Pacers on both ends of the court late in the quarter, but Boucher’s late three-pointer pushed the Raptors up, 67-66, to end the 3rd frame.
It was Mykhailiuk’s night as VanVleet would find him for a trifecta early in the final period. The Ukraine Maker would continue to inflict damage as his two free throws would give the Raptors their biggest lead at 75-68. Fun sequence: Chris Duarte and Barnes alternated baskets a few times, with Barnes just manhandling the Pacers frontcourt. Trent would come alive, pouring in five quick points, giving the Raptors an 87-81 lead, forcing the Pacers to call a timeout with just over three minutes to go.
FRED IS THAT GUY FAM pic.twitter.com/AwGgYQQzav— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 31, 2021
The Pacers responded with Turner’s three-pointer, but the Raptors came back with a quick 5-0 run that was capped by what should have been the dagger from VanVleet. The Pacers would stay in the game, as they forced VanVleet to turn the ball over while making two three-pointers on the other end. Barnes sealed the game from the free-throw line as Sabonis’ desperation shot bricked.
Up Next: The Raptors continue their three-game road trip against the surging New York Knicks on Monday.