Pacers at Raptors

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Blue-and-Gold Breakdown: Dec. 11

December 11, 2014 - In this week's episode, Pat Boylan is joined by FOX Sports Indiana's Jeremiah Johnson and Pacers forward Luis Scola.

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Blue-and-Gold Breakdown: Dec. 11

December 11, 2014 - In this week's episode, Pat Boylan is joined by FOX Sports Indiana's Jeremiah Johnson and Pacers forward Luis Scola.
Dec 11, 2014  |  13:38

Vogel on Rotation, Raptors, George Hill

December 11, 2014 - Pacers head coach Frank Vogel talks about potentially chaning the starting lineup, Friday's game in Toronto, and George Hill's return to practice.
Dec 11, 2014  |  03:25

Miles: "We Gotta Keep Guys' Spirits Up"

December 11th, 2014: Pacers shooting guard C.J. Miles discusses how is defense has helped his offense, and the Pacers' current mentality.
Dec 11, 2014  |  01:02

Rudez: Trying to "Get Ourselves in a Good Mindset"

December 11, 2014 - Pacers forward Damjan Rudez talks about the team's mindset after another tough loss and his individual level of play over the past few weeks.
Dec 11, 2014  |  02:00

Game Preview: Pacers at Raptors

Friday, December 12, 2014 at 7:30 PM ET at Air Canada Centre
by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor
@Wheat_Hotchkiss

Last Updated: Dec. 12 at 6:00 p.m.   

Matchup

The Pacers (7-15) are mired in a six-game losing streak and the schedule doesn't get any easier. Indiana heads north of the border on Friday night to take on the Toronto Raptors (16-6). The Raptors currently lead the Eastern Conference by a half-game over Atlanta and Washington.

In Wednesday night's 103-96 loss to the Clippers, the Pacers got a great effort from its second unit, which scored a season-high 66 points. C.J. Miles exploded for a season-best 30 points while knocking down 7-of-14 3-pointers and backup big men Luis Scola and Lavoy Allen each recorded double-doubles.

Unfortunately for Indiana, its starters couldn't muster much of anything. All five starters had a +/- differential between -20 and -30 on the night. David West had just two points on 1-of-7 shooting, while center Roy Hibbert played just over 12 minutes. The Pacers clearly need more production from their star post players and Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said after the game that "something's got to change" with the starting unit.

Following Thursday's practice, Vogel said he was still undecided about whether he would make any alterations. One thing that Vogel said "will factor into the decision" is how well the second unit has played together. With his bench playing so well, Vogel may not want to disrupt their chemistry by switching up the rotation.

Vogel did indeed make changes to the lineup just 90 minutes before Friday's game. FOX Sports Indiana's Jeremiah Johnson reported that the Pacers will start C.J. Watson and C.J. Miles in place of Solomon Hill and Chris Copeland. Watson will assumedly start at point guard, with Rodney Stuckey sliding to shooting guard and Miles lining up at small forward. It will be Watson's first start of the season. Miles started the first five games of the season before being sidelined with migraine symptoms.

Despite the recent skid, the mood at Thursday's practice was more upbeat than it had been in recent days.

"I think our spirit's good," Vogel said. "I think we understand where we're at and still have a strong belief that we can have a really good season. We've just got to keep teaching, keep grinding, keep working."

Part of the problem for the Blue-and-Gold in recent games has been falling into early holes — the Pacers have trailed by 10 or more points in the first quarter of each of their last three games. Toronto has the firepower to keep that trend going. The Raptors rank second in the NBA in points per game (108.5 points per game). Toronto is also one of the best teams at not turning the ball over, committing just 11.5 turnovers per game, fourth-fewest in the league.

The Raptors' attack is led by point guard Kyle Lowry, who averages 20.1 points and 7.5 assists per game. Second-leading scorer DeMar DeRozan is currently sidelined by injury, but four other players also boast a double-digit scoring average.

Projected Starters

Pacers: PG - C.J. Watson, SG - Rodney Stuckey, SF - C.J. Miles, PF - David West, C - Roy Hibbert
Raptors: PG - Kyle Lowry, SG - Greivis Vasquez, SF - Terrence Ross, PF - Amir Johnson, C - Jonas Valanciunas

Injury Report

Pacers: Paul George - out (rehabilitation, fractured right tibia/fibula), George Hill - out (left knee contusion), Ian Mahinmi - out (torn left plantar fascia)

Raptors: DeMar DeRozan - out (torn left adductor longus tendon)

You Can Quote Me On That

"They have weapons at every position. Their spread pick-and-roll attack off their bench I know is very strong. Lowry obviously is the head of the snake. (Jonas) Valanciunas grows every year. (Terrence) Ross is growing even more with (DeMar) DeRozan being out. They have tremendous firepower. It's the reason that they're best in the East." -Vogel on the Raptors

"(He was) making defensive plays, too. That's what I was happy with. He seems to be continuing to grow in regard (to) playing the way the Pacers play, with defense and rebounding first and a high motor on the offensive end. And his shot-making's coming." -Vogel on C.J. Miles' game against the Clippers

"We can't let some of the things that have been going on take the life out of us. I think when you start getting down and you start overthinking the game and guys start taking confidence away from themselves, that really hurts the morale as a whole. I think our biggest thing is...to come in here and have fun while we're working hard to keep guys' spirits up." -Miles

"The morale is low, but for us to get out of it, we need to raise the morale level higher. And we're working on it. We're working on it every day. Sometimes one big win is what makes a change, and I think it's about to come." -Pacers forward Luis Scola

"We just tried to get ourselves in a good mindset that we have to realistic and optimistic at the same time. Look forward and just try to get better every day." -Pacers forward Damjan Rudez

Last Meeting

April 4, 2014: The Blue-and-Gold dropped their sixth straight road game, falling to the Raptors in Toronto, 102-94. Indiana took a 94-92 lead with 4:24 remaining, but the Raptors closed the game on a 10-0 run as the Pacers missed their final seven shots.

Paul George scored a game-high 26 points and grabbed six rebounds in the loss. David West added 21 points, seven boards, and four assists.

Terrence Ross led five Raptors in double figures with 24 points, going 5-for-8 from 3-point range. Jonas Valanciunas had 22 points and nine rebounds, while DeMar DeRozan added 20 points and nine assists.

Noteworthy

  • Pacers point guard George Hill participated in semi-contact drills at the end of Thursday's practice for the first time since hurting his knee late in the preseason. Vogel said there is still no timetable for Hill's return to the lineup.
  • Indiana and Toronto split the four regular season meetings during the 2013-14 season with each squad winning both of its home games. Since Feb. 2007, Indiana has dropped nine of its last 14 trips to Toronto.
  • After being outrebounded by the Clippers 50-43 in Wednesday's loss, Indiana is now 0-8 this season when losing the battle of the boards.
  • Toronto has allowed its opponents to score 100 or more points in nine straight games (Nov. 24 - Dec. 9) - the longest streak during head coach Dwane Casey’s three-plus seasons (2011-present) with the Raptors.
  • Pacers forward David West needs 19 points to reach 12,000 for his career.
  • Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Dec. 1-7. Lowry averaged 29.3 points in that span (scoring a career-high 39 points at Utah on Dec. 3) and 8.7 assists.
  • Raptors forward Tyler Hansbrough was drafted by the Pacers with the 13th overall pick in 2009 and spent his first four NBA seasons in Indiana.

Broadcast Information

TV: FOX Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 107.5/1070 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (studio host)

Tickets

The Pacers return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday, Dec. 13 to host LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, and the Portland Trail Blazers. Plus, pay zero fees for any tickets purchased online through December 31, courtesy of FOX Sports Indiana. Find Tickets »

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