Domantas Sabonis and the Pacers take on the visiting Toronto Raptors Sunday. (Photo by Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire)
- The Toronto Raptors seek their fifth win in six games as they visit the Indiana Pacers
- Pacers’ head coach Nate Bjorkgren was an assistant in Toronto for the previous two seasons
- Check the odds, analysis and betting preview below
The Toronto Raptors are looking for their fifth win in six games, as they are in Indiana to take on the Pacers Sunday afternoon – the first of a back-to-back set.
Toronto crushed the Heat on the back end of their mini-set Friday, while Indiana needed overtime but found a way to get past the Orlando Magic.
The Pacers enter this one as 1.5-point favorites.
Raptors vs Pacers Odds
|Toronto Raptors||+1.5 (-110)||+100||N/A|
|Indiana Pacers||-1.5 (-110)||-118||N/A|
Odds from FanDuel taken January 23 Tip-off is Sunday at 1pm ET
The Raptors sit 12th in the East at 6-9, while the Pacers are tied for second in the conference with the Bucks, both at 9-6.
Hello, Old Friends
The Raptors may be seeing a little bit of their former selves in the Pacers, thanks to new head coach Nate Bjorkgren, who served as an assistant under Nick Nurse for two years for Toronto. He was part of the 2019 staff that delivered Toronto its first NBA title.
Bjorkgren shares that he and Nick Nurse shook hands in the G-League finals in 2013 and Nurse said “there’s no reason we both can’t do this at the next level.”
They’ll face off as NBA head coaches tomorrow at 1p.
— Pat Boylan (@PatBoylanPacers) January 23, 2021
Offensively, the impact has been immediate, as the Pacers are 10th in scoring at over 113 points a game, a four-point jump from their 23rd ranking a year ago. They’re still a top-7 team in assists, but they’ve found more success in ball movement and finding better, high-percentage shots.
Indiana leads the NBA in points in the paint at over 57 a contest, three points clear of second-place Memphis. That could be where this game gets settled, as the Raptors currently rank second in the league in fewest point paints allowed at 40 per game.
The ultimate Domantas Sabonis highlight. @WISH_TV pic.twitter.com/GdEEHQS1pj
— Charlie Clifford (@cliffWISH8) January 18, 2021
The Pacers should have a distinct advantage inside with all-star Domantas Sabonis, a do-it-all big that serves as the centrepiece of Bjorkgren’s free flowing, pass-happy offense. Sabonis is averaging career highs across the board, with 21.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.0 steals a game this season.
Malcom Brogdon SPLASH to steal the win in overtime for the Pacers pic.twitter.com/MzlxeL6urh
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) January 23, 2021
Fellow big man Myles Turner should also have a size advantage over much of what Toronto can throw at him. Malcolm Brogden, fresh off drilling the game-winning three to put Orlando on ice, continues to step into the closer role while they wait for Caris Levert. Levert, part of the James Harden blockbuster deal, is out indefinitely after doctors found a mass on his kidney while conducting a trade physical.
Raptors Need Multiple Efforts
Friday’s 101-81 win over the Heat was a great example of how Toronto needs good performances across the board to be successful. Norm Powell, starting for an injured Kyle Lowry, led the team in scoring with 23 points. Pascal Siakam chipped in with 15 points and 14 rebounds, while Fred VanVleet and Terence Davis also scored in double digits.
Norman Powell put up a game-high 23 PTS on 56% (10-18) shooting in the @Raptors win over Miami!#WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/AM6CvHlOxJ
— NBA Canada (@NBACanada) January 23, 2021
They were also paced by the red-hot shooting of OG Anunoby, who finished with a season-best 21 points, including a stellar 5-for-6 from three-point range. The Raptors’ young wing has been blistering from beyond the arc, connecting on 22 of his last 37 attempts, a 59.5% clip.
Toronto is top-10 in three-point shooting, and they should have an advantage over the Pacers, if they are able to connect. Indiana is allowing teams to shoot 39.5% from three-point range, which ranks 29th in the NBA.
OG Anunoby from three:
Against the Heat: 9-of-14
Last 6 games: 22-of-37
On the season: 40.9 percent on 5.9 attempts per game (up from 3.3 last year) pic.twitter.com/PxcXArAGUF
— William Lou (@william_lou) January 23, 2021
Lowry is expected back in the lineup after sitting with a toe infection, and you can expect him to get the team moving. Toronto is third in the NBA in fast break points at 16.5 points a game. If they can close out defensive possessions (the Raptors are bottom-10 in second chance points allowed), they should be out and running.
What’s The Best Bet?
There are big mismatches in the frontcourt that favor the Pacers. Sabonis and Turner will be an advantage matchup against any of Siakam, Anunoby and Chris Boucher down low. The line suggests the Raptors can make up that difference with their three-point shooting.
I think Toronto can carry their momentum from their recent string of wins against a soft schedule into Indiana and keep this one close.
The pick: Raptors +1.5 (-110)
Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.