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The Toronto Raptors can finish their six game road trip at 3-3 with a win vs. the Indiana Pacers on Friday night. Building off their defensive performance in the second half against the Grizzlies being the most important one, as Amit Mann outlines
AMIT MANN: It's the 9 and 10 Toronto Raptors taking on the 8 and 10 Indiana Pacers. Raptors are wrapping up their sixth game road trip in this game. I don't know why they're facing the Pacers after being on the West Coast for so long. Just let them come home, NBA. I don't know. I don't get it. Anyways, not a huge deal. You might think that because the Raptors are 2 and 0 against this team that this is a scheduled dub.
Well, I am not too sure about that. Within those two games, Malcolm Brogdon only played 21 minutes. And he had 18 points. And then Caris LeVert only played 15 minutes, and he had 15 points. So the Indiana Pacers are getting a lot healthier. They've had a really tough schedule so far this season. And they're looking at December as a way for them to really get going in the standings. Right now, they're below the Raptors, and they probably want to get in that top six. That's where they're at. They're going to be one of those teams that's part of the big cluster that's within the Eastern Conference. It's, like, 15 teams, it feels like.
So that's where they are right now. They are one of the best passing teams in the league, and they are definitely one of the best home teams. So for the Raptors, I mean, this is going to be a challenging game for them. And they've got to be able to control the pace of play. Indiana Pacers-- they really do try and slow things down. They're going to try and make this a bit of a snail game, if you will, because they don't want to get into that high octane, up-and-down game with the Toronto Raptors. And you're going to lose that game with them.
And on the offensive end for them, that Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis pick-and-roll is crucial to their success. They really use that to kind of kickstart the rest of their offense. And then you get the defense in rotations. And players like Chris Duarte, who was recently moved to the bench but is still one of the most dynamic players from this rookie class. TJ McConnell, another player.
He's a point guard's point guard, if you will. He is so good, so steady. Plays a lot of big minutes for them. Jeremy Lamb's there. He doesn't play a lot right now, but you never know. He's a Raptor killer, historically. So got to be careful with him.
Overall, they got a lot of different weapons at their disposal. That's why they're probably one of the best offensive teams in the NBA. I think they're going to be there by the end of the season. So the Raptors on the defensive end, they have to continue to build off what they did in the second half against Memphis Grizzlies. They've got to fill those gaps. They've got to keep their man in front of them. And they've got to communicate on defense. And they've got to be focused.
That's one of the biggest parts of the Raptors defense right now is that they've got to be locked in from the get go. They've got to be locked in for 24 seconds. It's not necessarily just about getting the stop, getting get the defensive rebound. And that will be another huge part of this game is controlling the glass to whatever degree they can. Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis. A lot of size there, and it's going to be a little bit tricky. We don't know at this point if Khem Birch or OG Anunoby are going to return to this game.
Defensive glass is going to be really important-- not just for the point's sake of it, but also so the Raptors can you get out and transition because, like I said, the Pacers love controlling the pace of play. They're going to try and slow it down. If the Raptors want to get going, they've got to start forcing those turnovers. They've got to get in transition. They've got to use Precious Achiuwa. He may not have the size of Myles Turner, but he does have the wheels to get past Myles Turner. So he has to beat him down the court. This should be a track meet. If you're Precious, make this a track meet.
And Myles Turner should be huffing and puffing every single time you finishes a shift. That's how it has to be. That's how Precious is going to be most valuable in this game. And then on the offensive end, you look at the Pacers. They only have two players within their rotation who are taller than 6' 7". Those players are Sabonis and Myles Turner, so Pascal Siakam, this is your time to feast. And if you know if they do put Sabonis on Pascal. Well, guess what? Now it's Scotty Barnes. This is what the Raptors do. You've got to pick your poison a little bit. The Pacers don't have enough size to cover off every single route around the offensive end.
And with Fred VanVleet, he historically does really well against drop coverages, although the Pacers are also comfortable putting Myles Turner out there on the perimeter. And if it comes down to Fred VanVleet taking on Myles Turner in some of those switches, I would put my money on Fred VanVleet to win those match-ups. I really would. And with the bench, I would like to see them kind of solidify their minutes. Yuta Watanabe is back.
And I imagine his minutes are going to steadily increase over these next few weeks. We just got to give him some time to get his body right and acclimated to the NBA once again. But Yuta is going to be huge, Delano, Svi, Malachi. They can't lose their minutes. That's pretty much the key here is that you just can't be a minus on the plus-minus board. And overall, for the Toronto Raptors, you win this game, you're 3 and 3 on this road trip. And then here comes December, and you got a lot of home games where you can start really building on something here in the Eastern Conference. So win this game and head on home.