The Toronto Raptors (23-35) are travelling back home from a poor effort against the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night, to take on the Indiana Pacers (36-22).
This in an incredibly important game, nonetheless an incredibly important next stretch of games if the Raptors hope to make the 8th and final seed in the conference playoffs. Blowing two games which should have been “gimmies” hurt their chances, but they are still 5 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for that final seed.
Roy Hibbert is to return in tonight’s lineup for the Pacers, after being suspended one game during their match-up with the Golden State Warriors Tuesday night, in a “brew-ha-ha” with Golden State’s all-star forward, David Lee.
Cage’s 5 keys to the game
1. Rebound, Rebound, oh, and one more… Rebound!
Fans have seen in the past 3 games versus Indiana how much of a bar fight it’s been. The Toronto Raptors have been out-rebounded in the last couple games against the Washington Wizards, and the Cavaliers. Indiana is the number one ranked team in the NBA in terms of rebounding, at a magnificent 45.8 rebounds a game (3rd in defensive rebounding, tied for 2nd in offensive rebounding). Toronto needs contributions across the board in the rebounding department, it’s crucial Toronto does not get out-rebounded in this match-up.
2. Run Forest, Run!
The past 3 games versus Indiana have been ugly. Getting straight to the point, it’s some of the ugliest, slowest, and most grind-it-out type basketball a basketball fan will ever see. Run the fast break. Toronto has matched up very well with Indiana and their size playing a slower game, but if the Toronto Raptors can gain any type of advantage over the Pacers, it’ll be running the open floor. Kyle Lowry, as the floor general, get their motors running!
3. No More Riding The Pine
Bench production is KEY. Washington and Cleveland’s bench have both provided 39 points off the pine in their respective match-ups with the Raptors. The Raptors have a combined total of 32 points against the Cavaliers and the Wizards. If Toronto wants to get a win, it will be their bench that provides a major impact. Toronto really needs production coming from Alan Anderson, John Lucas III, and Andrea Bargnani.
4. You Can’t Stop Him, You Can Only Hope To Contain Him”
Paul George. This man is a talented, talented player. It’s proven, he’s an NBA All-Star. Averaging career highs in scoring (17.7), steals (1.8), assists (4.0), rebounding (7.9), and free throw percentage (80.6%). He’s lit up the Raptors in the past meetings, and that’ll be the responsibility of Demar Derozan, Rudy Gay, Anderson, Landry Fields, and the team to slow him down. Body him, make him uncomfortable, and make him take contested jumpers, watch out for him in transition as well.
@stackmack: Casey: “The growth of Paul George after Granger went out is unbelievable.”
5. One, Two Combo Punch!
Rudy Gay and Demar Derozan need to continue their solid play. Rudy is coming off a solid performance with 24 points, 6 assists and 8 rebounds. He needs to continue to go to the rack, and take shots in rhythm, play within the offense, and create when needs to. Derozan coming of a a great night, with 34 points on 19 shots is one of his most efficient nights as a pro, who also added 5 rebounds to his line. Derozan has been the one playing with any sense of urgency lately, hopefully Rudy picks it up, and the team falls behind these two.
Dwane Casey. The player management, rotation patterns, substitution methods, and play calls have been BRUTAL. He’s been running the rotations as if they’re hockey lineups. Coach, get your men to play hard on the defensive end, take care of your rotations, tighten up the minutes, and sub in the right players to give you the 100% effort, the willing defense, and team offense to help you get a very important win tonight.
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