The Indiana Pacers are suddenly one of the hotter teams in the NBA and can look forward to a stretch of the schedule filled with home games, beginning with a visit from the Toronto Raptors on Friday. The matchup begins a three-game homestand for the Pacers, who also play six in a row in Indianapolis early next month and 17 out of 24 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse through the middle of January.
They enter the stretch on a four-game winning streak after a 105-97 victory at Orlando on Monday, with Victor Oladipo continuing his solid campaign with 29 points, nine rebounds and seven steals. “He’s taking that leader role,” Indiana guard Lance Stephenson told reporters of Oladipo. “He’s bringing it every night and being that guy that we need him to be.” The Raptors had a four-game winning streak of their own snapped with a 108-100 loss at the New York Knicks on Wednesday. The Knicks put forth an improbable 28-0 run during a dominant third quarter, and a fourth-quarter rally by Toronto fell well short.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Sportsnet ONE (Toronto), FSN Indiana
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (11-6): DeMar DeRozan’s streak of nine straight games with at least 20 points came to an end with 18 at Madison Square Garden, and he was one of many who was off target in the team’s 0-for-13 swoon during the decisive third-quarter run. “They came out aggressive in the third quarter. We came out in a funk,” DeRozan told the media. “We couldn’t make a basket and couldn’t get a stop, and they took advantage of it. It happens. It’s the NBA. Some teams, some nights, have to go through it.” Kyle Lowry continued his turnaround after a slow start to the season with 25 points and 10 rebounds, and the veteran point guard is averaging 19.6 points, eight assists and 7.8 boards in his last five games.
ABOUT THE PACERS (10-8): After a 118-95 loss to Houston at home on Nov. 12, Indiana was 6-8, had lost five of six and was searching for some answers, but they’ve come in a hurry behind Oladlipo and Bojan Bogdanovic, who has back-to-back 26-point games. “I’ve never seen a team (come together) this quick,” point guard Darren Collison told reporters. “Even the best teams with the best talent, like OKC, and the old days when LeBron was in Miami, it took a long time for them to jell. I‘m not saying we’re as talented as they are, but when you’re building a new team it does take a while. The way we’re jelling right now is definitely amazing.” Bogdanovic has drained 18-of-29 3-pointers during the winning streak and entered Thanksgiving fourth in the NBA from beyond the arc (48.4 percent).
1. Collison is averaging 16 points and eight assists over a four-game span and is shooting 53.3 percent at home this season.
2. Raptors F Pascal Siakam missed all 11 of his 3-point tries over a five-game stretch.
3. Toronto won nine of the last 11 meetings after taking two of three last season.
PREDICTION: Pacers 111, Raptors 109