Friday, April 4, 2014 at 7:00 PM ET at Air Canada Centre

Game Preview: Pacers at Raptors

Scott Agness | April 2, 2014

Matchup

The Pacers (53-23) fly across the border to take on the Toronto Raptors (43-32) Friday night in what could be a preview of a second-round playoff matchup.

Toronto ended March by playing four of five games on the road, including a trip down to Miami. During that trip, they clinched their first playoff berth since 2008. As of Thursday, they are tied with Chicago for the 3-seed. Toronto owns the tiebreaker over the Bulls because they lead their division and the Bulls do not. Now the Raptors, who are coming off a notable win over Houston — Dwane Casey’s 100th career win as the Raptors coach — have won four of five. They play four of their final seven games at home, and all of their remaining games are against Eastern Conference teams.

The last time the Pacers made the trip up to Toronto, they fell by 13 points on the first of January. Facing the Raptors again just a week later, the Pacers avenged that loss with a seven-point win in Indy. Both Indiana wins over Toronto this season were decided by seven points.

The Raptors, who will finish above.500 for just the sixth time in franchise history and the first time since 2008, are a very good team — a playoff team — that has given the Pacers problems. First-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan is averaging 20 points and five rebounds against the Pacers but he’s also playing way more than nearly everybody on their team: 38 minutes per game.

Kyle Lowry, who many believed deserved to be an All-Star, missed his first game of the season Wednesday because of a bruised knee cap. He’s listed as day-to-day. Big man Jonas Valanciunas is a threat in the post, connecting on better than 52 percent of his shots.

As for the Pacers, they've made progress over the last three games on the offensive end, with the team finally getting rewarded for it in Wednesday's win over Detroit. The keys to that victory were 49 percent shooting, six players scoring in double figures, and 24 assists — the highest total in more than a month.

The team is understands, however, that it was just one win and a step forward. What they can’t do is have another hiccup and fall a couple steps back.

The Pacers are still without the services of backup point guard C.J. Watson due to a strained hamstring. He did some light work at practice on Thursday, spending time on an elliptical, but he will miss his 12th consecutive game on Friday night.

Just percentage points (.006) out of first place in the East, every game matters for the Pacers. More than their quest for the top seed, which they have moved away from talking about, the team's focus is on raising their play as they hit the final stretch of the regular season.

Probable Starters

George Hill

George Hill

Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson

Paul George

Paul George

David West

David West

Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert

Greivis Vasquez

Greivis Vasquez

DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan

Terrence Ross

Terrence Ross

Amir Johnson

Amir Johnson

Jonas Valanciunas

Jonas Valanciunas

Injury Update

Pacers: Andrew Bynum (out, sore right knee), C.J. Watson (out, right hamstring strain)
Raptors: Kyle Lowry (day-to-day, bruised left knee cap), Amir Johnson (day-to-day, sore right ankle)

Quotable

“I think we made a shift in terms of really starting to play for each other again, like we were early in the season. I thought we made the shift in the Cleveland game and carried it over into the San Antonio game without the payoff of a victory. We’re going to continue to play the right way and trust the foundation of our system and how we play here.”

“People want to look past Miami and Indiana in the standings and there’s a lot of talk about Chicago and Brooklyn. They’re very good teams but I think Toronto is right there with them, if not better. I think Duane Casey has done a heck of a job. They have a young team, an energetic team, they play together and they guard. I’m really impressed with what they’ve done up there.” – Frank Vogel on the Raptors

“It’s going to be tough to win up there, it always is. We’ve got to take care of the basketball, take shots when they’re there just be prepared to deal with their pressure and the way they move the basketball from side to side.” – David West on the Raptors

“We got six games to finish, just trying to make sure we’re playing better basketball than we’ve been playing in the last few weeks.” – David West

“People thinking the sky was falling on this team. We lost a couple of games and in the real scheme of things, we were No. 1 for almost the whole season in the East. We lost a couple games, went through a bad week, a bad month, and our record was still pretty sound and pretty solid. We weren’t in panic mode.” – Paul George

Noteworthy

  • The Pacers have won three of their past four meetings with the Raptors.
  • Rasual Butler averaged 3.2 points and 1.9 rebounds in 34 appearances with the Raptors during the 2011-12 season.
  • Tyler Hansbrough joined the Raptors last summer as a free agent. The 6-foot-9 forward was drafted by the Pacers in 2009 and averaged 8.9 points and 4.7 rebounds in his first four seasons in the league.

Last Meeting

January 7: Lance Stephenson nearly recorded his fourth triple-double of the season, finishing with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists as the Pacers dropped the Toronto Raptors, 86-79. The Raptors didn’t arrive in Indy until less than six hours before tip-off due to weather delays. Indiana used a 9-2 spurt in the third period to go ahead by 17. The Raptors cut it to six three times in the final three minutes but couldn’t push any closer.

Roy Hibbert led the Pacers with 22 points (12 coming at the foul line), eight rebounds, and three swats. Luis Scola contributed eight points and nine rebounds off the pine. DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Patterson and Kyle Lowry combined for 64 of Toronto’s 79 points. The Pacers couldn’t buy a bucket from downtown, finishing 1-for-11.

Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »

TV: FOX Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Brooke Olzendam (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: FM 107.5/AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Michael Grady (studio host)

Playoff Priority Presale Registration »
Register to earn an opportunity to purchase single-game tickets for the playoffs