Game Preview: Raptors vs Pacers
Indiana Pacers (20-11) @ Toronto Raptors (23-9)
When: Wednesday, December 19th, 7:30 P.M. ET
Where: Scotiabank Arena
Leading into tonight’s game:
Injury Report: For the Raptors, Jonas Valanciunas is out with a dislocated left thumb. Kyle Lowry is questionable with a left thigh contusion and Serge Ibaka is questionable with right knee swelling. Pascal Siakam (back stiffness) and Fred VanVleet (lower back stiffness) are both listed as probable, while Norman Powell is listed as probable after missing the last 20 games with a left shoulder subluxation. For the Pacers, the injury report is to be announced.
Home court: The Raptors are back home for their first game at Scotiabank Arena following a four-game west coast road trip. The team started off strong, winning both games in a back-to-back against the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors, but returned home with a 2-2 record on the trip after dropping games against Portland and Denver. Toronto is still an NBA-best 23-9 this season. The next six games on the schedule for the Raptors are all against Eastern Conference opponents.
Recent history: Wednesday’s game will be the first of three meetings between the Raptors and Pacers this season. While the Raptors are eager to get things back on track after dropping two straight, no one has been hotter than the Pacers of late. Indiana had won seven straight before dropping a 92-91 decision on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday when Larry Nance Jr. had a buzzer-beating tip-in. Domantas Sabonis led the Pacers with 17 points and eight rebounds in the loss. “They’re playing well,” C.J. Miles said. “They play hard. They have a good rotation, a lot of guys that can play well. They’ve got guys playing their role.”
Player’s coach: C.J. Miles has had a season with Nurse as an assistant coach before taking over as head coach this season. “I think he’s very adaptive,” Miles said. “The biggest thing is him being willing to listen to guys and be adaptive with the game… If Kyle sees something, or Kawhi sees something, him not being afraid to be like, ‘Okay let’s try that’. I think that’s pretty big, and I think that’s part of our success.” Kawhi Leonard is in his first season with Nick Nurse as his head coach, but already has a good feel for Nurse’s style on the sidelines. “He’s a player’s coach,” Leonard said. “He also tries to hold you accountable of your role, [wants you to] try to do your job on the defensive end or offensive end.”
Norm on deck: Norman Powell has missed the last 20 games with a left shoulder subluxation sustained on Nov. 5 in a road victory in Utah. He is listed as probable in the team’s official injury report for Wednesday’s game. Nick Nurse spoke about the timing of Powell’s injury as well as his hopes for Powell when he makes his return to the lineup. “He really was doing a good job of fulfilling a role [before he got injured," Nurse said. "Playing hard on defence, taking the open situation on offence not forcing the issue as much. That’s what we need him to do, especially now, coming off the injury. Just play hard and settle in on the offensive end.”
Leading the way: Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points to go with 14 rebounds and four assists in Sunday’s loss against the Nuggets. He led the Raptors in Portland, scoring 28 points in his return from a two-game absence with a bruised hip while also adding six rebounds, four assists and a steal. On the season, Leonard is leading the team in scoring (26.3 points), rebounding (8.4) and steals (1.8) per game. He is eighth in the league in points-per-game average.