Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers at Toronto


Dec. 28, 2011 at Air Canada Centre
Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers at Toronto

By Conrad Brunner

SCOUTING THE PACERS: Opening the season with a 91-79 home victory over Detroit Monday, the Pacers rolled up a 24-point lead and never trailed despite shooting .368 from the field. While solid defensively (the Pistons shot .360) and on the boards (holding a 53-40 advantage), the Pacers continued to struggle for offense. In three games, including two preseason losses to the Bulls, Indiana has shot .358 while averaging 87.3 points. Tyler Hansbrough has been hot, averaging 19.3 points and 12.3 rebounds while posting double-doubles in all three games. Danny Granger (15-of-46 including preseason, 6-of-18 against Detroit) and George Hill (5-of-22 including preseason, 0-of-7 from the arc) have struggled. Heading into a home-opener environment in Toronto will be a test for a team looking for its first win in Toronto since 2008.

SCOUTING THE RAPTORS: The Raptors have won five in a row at home from the Pacers and are coming off a solid 104-96 season opening win in Cleveland Monday. Like the Pistons, the Raptors feature a new head coach in Dwane Casey, whose challenge is to develop a tougher defensive mindset for a historically high-scoring team. Toronto controlled the boards, shot 53.2 percent and had 35 assists on 42 made baskets against the Cavaliers. This is a rebuilding year for the Raptors, signaled by the selection of Jonas Valanciunas, who will spend the season in Europe, with their top pick in the draft. Amir Johnson had 13 points and 13 rebounds against the Cavs, while Ed Davis hit all seven of his shots.

KEY MATCHUP: Jose Calderon has proven problematic for the Pacers throughout his career. Not only is he a superb ballhandler and passer, he is a perpetual-motion machine at the point. He had 15 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in the opener. He has a size advantage on the Pacers' Darren Collison, which could mean more time for either George Hill or Lance Stephenson off the bench.

QUOTE MARKS: "Another dangerous team. They're going to challenge us with (Andrea) Bargnani's ability to shoot the ball at the power forward spot. They've got young athletes similar to what we have, and a solid point guard who runs the show. Coach Casey is trying to establish a defensive mindset and they're playing a lot tougher defensively. They got a good road win against Cleveland and they're always tough to beat in that building so it's going to be a challenge." -- Pacers Coach Frank Vogel.

INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, F Jeff Pendergraph (sprained right knee) and C Jeff Foster (sore blower back) are day-to-day. For the Raptors, F Linas Kleiza (right knee surgery) is out and C Aaron Gray (rapid heart rate) is day-to-day.

BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 6 p.m. on Fox Sports Indiana with Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner calling the game and Brooke Olzendam on the sideline, with a pre-game show starting at 5:30. The radio broadcast is1070AM The Fan, featuring Mark Boyle in his 24th season of play-by-play.