Game Preview: Raptors at Pacers
Toronto Raptors (50-17) @ Indiana Pacers (40-28)
When: Thursday, March 15, 7:00 P.M. ET
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Broadcast info: SN1, TSN1050
The Raptors held on for a 120-115 victory against the Pacers on the ACC floor in December. DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 26 points as Jakob Poeltl had a career-high 18 points on a perfect 8-for-8 field goals and six Toronto players reached double figures. Though the Pacers led 32-27 after the first quarter, Toronto scored 38 points in the second quarter to take a 65-58 lead at the halftime break. Things would stay close in the second half, but the Pacers wouldn't get any closer than five points down the stretch. Victor Oladipo led all scorers with 36 points in the loss for Indiana.
LEADING INTO TONIGHT'S GAME
Injury report: For Toronto, OG Anunoby (right ankle sprain) is listed as doubtful, while Norman Powell is listed as questionable after suffering an ankle sprain during a basketball workout on Wednesday. For the Pacers, Domantas Sabonis (left ankle sprain) is listed as questionable.
50 club: Toronto reached 50 victories this season thanks to Tuesday's 116-102 win against the Brooklyn Nets. This is the third consecutive season the team has reached 50 wins, and the quickest. With a 50-17 record, Toronto is 33 games above .500 for the first time in franchise history.
Nine in a row: The Raptors have now won a season-high nine games straight (Feb. 23-Mar. 13). This ties the second-longest streak in franchise history, with the franchise-record being 11 games in a row, set back in 2016. The team's margin of victory during the streak is 12.8 points.
Finish strong: The Raptors will return to the Air Canada Centre following Thursday's game, for a quick back-to-back against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday. With two wins already secured, the team would like to take care of the three-game road trip sweep, but they will face a scrappy Pacers team on Thursday. Victor Oladipo is leading third-place Indiana with 23.6 points per game, while Bojan Bogdanovic is averaging 14.2 points per contest while shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc.
Closing time: Leading by three with 5:48 remaining against the Nets, the Raptors closed the game on a 13-2 run to earn a 14-point win in Brooklyn on Tuesday. DeMar DeRozan scored seven points in the final five minutes, Fred VanVleet added four and Jonas Valanciunas delivered an emphatic dunk that put the Raptors ahead by 12 points. It was another example of Toronto staying cool under pressure. After the game, VanVleet spoke to Dan Devine of Yahoo! Sports.
"We know the level we can play at," he said. "While we're not trying to give up leads in any game, there's no game we feel like we couldn't win. We always have that sense of, if a team goes on a run or a guy scores 24 in 6 minutes, we always feel like we can win the game"
Steady Freddy: Fred VanVleet has good reason to be confident in the team's ability to survive another team's run, especially when he's on the floor. VanVleet played nearly 28 minutes on Tuesday, and the Raptors were a +31 when he was on the floor in a 14-point victory. The reserve point guard, who has been fantastic all year, finished with 15 points, four assists, two steals and a rebound in his time on the floor, but it is his calming presence that has made all the difference this season.