The second-seed Toronto Raptors will try to take the lead in their season-series lead against the seventh-seed Indiana Pacers, when they play them at 7 p.m. ET at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
On the injury front, the Raptors will still be without DeMarre Carroll, and possibly Jonas Valanciunas who is suffering from a left hand contusion. For the Pacers, Ian Mahinmi is out with a sore lower back, while Ty Lawson remains questionable with a sprained left foot.
Tonight’s matchup should be an interesting preview to a potential playoff matchup, with Indiana (36-31) being a team that could give the Raptors their best chance at advancing to the second-round.
Cage’s Keys to the Game
Contain Paul George
In his last five games, Paul George has been averaging 22.6 points and six rebounds per game. The Raptors did a good job containing him during their previous meeting, but tonight they’re dealing with a post-All-Star-Game George- one who’s been averaging 23.5 points, 5 assists and 6.6 rebounds.
It’ll be a battle of depth tonight.
The Raptors bench, consisting of Cory Joseph, Terrence Ross, Patrick Patterson must continue to produce efficiently on both ends of the floor, especially if Dwane Casey chooses to rest the starters down the final stretch of the season. Heck, even Norman Powell could become a key player if he plays the way he did Tuesday against the Bucks, scoring a career-high 17 points in just over 34 minutes of playing time.
In the last meeting between the two teams, Indiana’s Jordan Hill came out with a double-double (20 points, 13 rebounds), boasting four offensive rebounds. With Valanciunas injured, Bismack Biyombo will get another start, giving the Raptors solid rim protection right from the tip. If Biz can protect the way he did against the Bucks, the Raptors can focus more on defending the perimeter.
X-Factor: James Johnson
As long as Carroll remains injured, James Johnson has had the difficult task of defending some of the league’s most talented small forwards- and tonight is no exception. Paul George can shoot, drive and draw fouls, and it’s up to JJ to lock him down.
All stats for this article are from NBA.com
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