The Toronto Raptors (2-3), losers of two straight head into the Banker’s Life Field House tonight to face the undefeated Indiana Pacers (5-0). The Raptors hope to avoid their first three game losing streak of the season, however their opponent is no slouch. This game against the Pacers should reveal to Dwane Casey the importance of size and how having a dominant big man can help control the game. The Raptors will have their hands full tonight against a tough Pacers squad.
The Cage’s 5 Key’s to the game
1. Attack the Basket Strong!
Indiana’s defence is built to funnel their man to the paint to and use the helping defender to contain the ball. The Raptors need to anticipate that the Pacer will allow them to shoot from beyond the arc. Taking it strong to the paint, getting to the line and putting their bigs in foul trouble is the best way to control the outcome of the game early on.
2. Stop Paul George
Paul George is making an early case for MVP this season. He’s been on an absolute tear to start the season (averaging 25.8 ppg 8.2 reb 4 ast and 1.8 stl) carrying over his momentum from last season’s Eastern Conference finals run. George is more than a capable scorer, the only way to slow him down will be to pressure him when he puts the ball on the floor. He’ll be a tough cover because he’s deadly off the catch and shoot as well.
3. Ball Movement
The Raptors are currently the second worst passing team in the entire association. Isolation basketball has made this team virtually unwatchable at moments. It’s a sad day when you wish for the old Euro-Raptors to come back. Either Kyle Lowry starts picking his sports better, or DJ Augustin should see more minutes with the first unit.
4. Solve This Identity Crisis
For five games this season the Raptors have looked lost out there on the court. It appears as if they lack direction, and the cohesiveness that should come from a team that’s core is still in tact. For this to happen the players that represent new change need to get some burn. This means Jonas Valanciunas, this means Terrence Ross and this also means
Quincy Acy. Commit to the future and play the hungry.
5. Dwane Casey
After the loss against the Bobcats this week there has been a lot of attention paid to Dwane Casey. His inability to count, refusal to play our most talented players or understand that you’re team is not guaranteed possession after a shot attempt has brung his popularity to an all time low. Ultimately if Dwane Casey plans on keeping his job, than he better light a fire under his team’s ass for this one.
X-Factor: Kyle Lowry
Regardless of if George Hill suits up tonight, Kyle Lowry has the advantage tonight running the point for the Raptors. His bully ball style will allow him to blow by his initial defender and draw help therefore opening lanes for Toronto’s slashers. Kyle doesn’t have to be an effective scorer tonight because he’ll be attacking one of the biggest bodies in the NBA. For Kyle to help this team win he needs to be patient in the pick and roll and look for his teammates.