It is now confirmed that the Toronto Raptors first round opponents in the 2016 NBA Playoffs will be the Indiana Pacers.
As the Raptors dismantled the Philadelphia 76ers (122-98) the Indiana Pacers were negotiating their own playoff seed in a matchup against New York. The Pacers took the home victory 102-90 and as Detroit went down to Miami it was made official, the Raptors first round opponents for 2016 are the 7th seeded Indiana Pacers. The Pacers now have a 44-37 record with one game to play against the Bucks tomorrow night while the Raptors play their last game against Brooklyn at the same time.
The Playoff schedule will not be released until later in the week but the second seed Toronto will have home court advantage for both this match up and the second round (should they make it). Game 1 is to take place on either Saturday or Sunday at the Air Canada Centre with game 2 also in Toronto, the series will than head to Indiana for two games before (if needed) game 5 back in Toronto.
The Raptors took the season series against the Pacers 3 games to 1. Their most recent matchup was earlier this month and Toronto strolled to a 111-98 victory at home. That game did not feature Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Luis Scola and DeMarre Carroll as all were either rested or still on the injury list. Everyone of those players is expected to be fit for the playoffs and the fact a half strength Raptors side was able to win what was at the time an important game for Indiana should give fans a lot of confidence heading into a third straight playoff series.
Indiana’s star Paul George is undoubtedly the biggest threat to a place in the second round but so far this season Toronto has done a good job of containing him. He scored 14 points in the last match up and 16 in their sole victory over the Raptors this season. Most likely DeMarre Carroll or DeMar DeRozan will match up against the Pacers wing. This Pacers side also has a few other notable players, George Hill is a dangerous veteran and scored 20 against Toronto earlier this season. Monta Ellis, Ty Lawson, Rodney Stuckey, Solomon Hill and Jordan Hill are also some key players in this series that the Raptors must be wary of.
The Pacers did not make the postseason last year but have been strong contenders in recent memory. Their last 3 playoff series came to an end at the hands of LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Indiana met them in the conference finals for two straight seasons and took them to game 7 in 2013 and than 6 in 2014. This team has a lot of playoff experience and will not be a pushover by any means, however the Raptors will start as favourites.
Stay tuned for more updates as the series draws closer. Remember the Raptors played their season opener against Indiana in October. Fans everywhere will be hoping it ends in a similar result.