After a two-week road trip that took them all over the U.S., from Portland to Sacramento to Memphis, the Toronto Raptors headed to Indianapolis tonight to face the Indiana Pacers with hopes of heading home with an even .500 record.
Just like the various altitudes the Raptors have travelled through during the last few weeks, the games this road trip have been… all over the place. Injuries causing fluctuating lineups, close games and some not-close-at-all games (in both ways) — it seems like the Raptors have had a hard time finding their groove as of late.
Tonight started in the same way — with OG Anunoby, Khem Birch, and Yuta Watanabe all out, the Raptors went into the game without the depth and defensive energy that really seems to make a difference down the stretch.
It was hard to tell in the first quarter that the Raptors were missing some key pieces. Though the Pacers kept up shot for shot through most of the opening quarter, the Raptors seemed to have things under control after 12 minutes with Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam getting some nice looks.
The Pacers didn’t let off though, starting the second quarter with some quick points to bridge the gap. As the Pacers continued to extend their lead, Scottie Barnes caught his previously injured thumb during a play. After trying to tough it out, he made his way back to the locker room, which definitely didn’t help the Raptors’ worsening situation.
The Raptors ended the first half down 66-57, mostly due to a lack of defensive power that was feared knowing who was out of the game from the start. As everyone’s favourite analyst and WNBA All-Star Kia Nurse said during halftime, the Raptors needed to get more points in the paint and step it up defensively going into half #2.
A sigh of relief was let out across Canada when Scottie Barnes stepped onto the court to start the second half, but the Raptors spent most of the 3rd quarter in an offensive slump, which continued through the fourth.
The Raptors just seemed to be chasing the Pacers as they extended the league. Not helping the situation, Gary Trent Jr headed out midway through the 4th with calf tightness and did not return, leaving the Raptors without one of their defensive powerhouses.
Unfortunately, the Raptors just couldn’t get it together to even out their record heading back to Toronto, though there were a handful of promising performances to prove that the Raptors are on the edge of being a really dangerous team once healthy.
Notably, Fred Vanvleet had another impressive performance with 26 points, four assists and five rebounds.
Scottie Barnes, despite the scare late in the first half with his thumb injury, finished off the night with 17 points, four assists and seven rebounds. Hopefully with some rest he will be back to 100% by the time the Raptors play again on Sunday.
Gary Trent Jr. continued to make a difference with 13 points, one assist and two steals, despite leaving for the locker room before the game was over. Pascal Siakam finished the night with 17 points, 12 rebounds, and 4=four assists, continuing to play well even as he integrates back into the lineup after injury.
Despite some great performances by these guys who were visibly exhausted at the end of a long road trip, it wasn’t enough to take down the Pacers this time. Especially with Domantas Sabonis scoring 23 points and getting 18 rebounds. The Raptors finish the game down 114-97.
After a disappointing 2-4 road trip, the Raptors head back to Toronto with an overall record of 9-11. The Raptors hope to get OG Anunoby, Khem Birch and Yuta Watanabe back in time to play the Boston Celtics Sunday night at home.