The Toronto Raptors followed up an absolute stinker against the Portland Trail Blazers last month by upsetting the Milwaukee Bucks a couple of nights later. They followed up a no-show against the Boston Celtics two weeks ago with a memorable comeback against the Washington Wizards. What could Toronto have in store for the Indiana Pacers after laying an egg in Orlando against the Magic?
Toronto’s first In-Season Tournament game against Boston was viewed as a must-win. While the Raptors didn’t succeed in winning, the possibility of a Wild Card spot in the quarterfinals could be achieved if they ran the table in their next three games.
Orlando had other plans.
The Magic overcame an early 4-2 deficit by going on an 8-0 run and never looked back. Toronto had the kind of defensive showing that will have Indiana salivating. No team in the NBA takes (and more importantly, makes) as many shots as the Pacers.....and still shoot 50% from the field. They also lead the league in points and assists.
This is one of those rare matchups where assigning OG Anunoby the opponents’ superstar may not prove fruitful. Haliburton is a reluctant shooter who wants to pass and is surrounded by capable shooters. The Raptors' defense will have to communicate and move in unison to slow down the Pacers’ attack.
You know, the opposite of what they did in Orlando!
How to Watch:
TSN at 7:30 p.m. ET
Toronto: Dennis Schroder, Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Jakob Poeltl
Indiana: Tyrese Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin, Bruce Brown, Obi Toppin, Myles Turner
Toronto: Christian Koloko (respiratory; out), Thaddeus Young (illness; out)
Indiana: Andrew Nembhard (back; questionable)
Basketball Reference does not have any nicknames listed for Tyrese Haliburton. Can Gilbert Arenas pass the ‘Agent Zero’ nickname down to Hali? Because Tyrese has been KILLING it on the offensive end. It’s simply not enough to say he’s having a great season so far (small sample size be damned), Haliburton is potentially having a history-making season!
At his current pace, Tyrese can join the 11 other members of the elite 50/40/90 club (he was close last season, finishing with 49/40/85 splits). If he continues scoring 20 points or more per game (24.7), he’d be the 6th of the group to score as many. If he continues dishing 10 assists or more per game (12.0), he’ll join Steve Nash as the only member of the group to assist as many. Combine the shooting splits, scoring, and assists, and Tyrese Haliburton would be the first player in NBA history to shoot 50% from the field, 40% from three, 90% from the line, while accumulating at least 20 points and 10 assists. Wow!
IST making history
Last night’s exhilarating game between the Pacers and Hawks was everything the NBA was hoping for when the idea of an In-Season Tournament was concocted. Despite giving up 86(!) points in the first half, Indiana came out on top, 157-152.
The final score was only the 6th in NBA history where both teams scored at least 152 points in a game that was decided in regulation. The last time it occurred was in 2019 when the Rockets defeated the Wizards, 159-158. Fun fact: Clint Capela started for those Rockets in 2019 and also started the Hawks last night.
Indiana is on a good......pace
No, I’m not referring to Indiana’s league-leading pace. The Pacers are not only playing like they could shake up the East this year but they’re set up for success financially to keep the good times rolling!
Three of Indiana’s starters are still on rookie scale deals (Haliburton, Mathurin, and Toppin). The only players earning more than $8.7 million are Buddy Hield (who’s on an expiring contract), Bruce Brown (whose salary next season is a team option), and Myles Turner (whose decreases by $1 million next season).
It’s a scary thought that this up-and-coming team has already arrived and can build an even stronger roster in the offseason!