The Toronto Raptors are set to take on the second place Indiana Pacers. This game is big because the Pacers are currently second in the Eastern Conference; also this game may serve as what could very well be a potential second round matchup for the Raptors barring their post-season success. Toronto is coming off a big win against the Houston Rockets the other night without the services of Kyle Lowry or Amir Johnson. Hopefully tonight they will be able to continue their winning ways against who may become a very familiar opponent for the Raptors in years to come. As the Raptors near the playoffs, every game becomes increasingly important in securing playoff position, and maintaining a competitive edge to ride out the season.
Cage’s Keys to the Game
Don’t Let George Get Going
Paul George has been somewhat at the point of blame for Indiana’s current slump. He’ll be the focal point of their offence as always, the Raptors must give him some cushion to prevent his attacks to the rim. Toronto has defenders who are able to recover on the jumpshot, so allow George to beat you from deep.
Let the Bodies Hit the Floor
Toronto is going up against a very physical Pacers team. Dwane Casey should be moving through his bigs tonight in order to keep the continuity in terms of matching Indiana’s physicality. Jonas Valanciunas will need to stay in check and keep his foul under control. In these playoff type games, having a solid big down the stretch who can hit free throws is always important.
Pressure 48 Minutes
Toronto needs to put defensive pressure on the Indiana ball handlers as soon as the game starts- college style. In many ways Toronto can use this as a statement game moving forward into the playoffs. However, Toronto also has the chance to deploy their defensive schemes that they may have been considering come the post season. Although these games are important standing wise, Toronto has the chance to test the waters before it starts getting real. If it doesn’t work out, rest up and move on to the next one.
X-Factor: Terrence Ross
Recently the presence of Terrence’s Ross has been usurped by the rise of Greivis Vasquez. This post-season T-Ross will be asked to guard the best players as always but in a heightened atmosphere. Ross will get a taste of what playoff ball is like tonight against the Pacers, and he can’t shy from the moment. The reason Vasquez is getting Ross’ minutes has a lot to do with confidence; show you can hang with the starters in crunch time Terrence. Show em.