Preview: Pacers at Raptors
The Indiana Pacers may have been caught looking too far ahead prior to Wednesday night’s visit to the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Raptors. The Pacers had won seven in a row and led the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers by six points with roughly four minutes to play Tuesday at home before faltering down the stretch in a 92-91 loss.
Victor Oladipo missed three straight free throws in the final minute – two of them with 9.5 seconds to go – as Indiana fell to 14-4 against the East. The Raptors have been atop the heap since the season began but they are just 3-5 after starting 20-4 after falling 95-86 at Denver on Sunday to finish a four-game road trip. “I mean, that’s why you got 82 games, a learning concept as you go on through the year,” star swingman Kawhi Leonard told reporters at Tuesday’s practice. “You’re building toward something at the end of the year.” Leonard shot 12-for-21 in the loss to the Nuggets while his teammates combined to shoot 34.3 percent.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FS Indiana, TSN (Toronto)
ABOUT THE PACERS (20-11): Oladipo had been progressing well since returning from a knee injury that robbed him of 11 games, but the missed free throws were part of a rough showing against Cleveland. “I got to be better down the stretch, especially at the free-throw line,” Oladipo told reporters after scoring 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting and getting tossed to the ground ahead of Larry Nance Jr’s game-winning tip-in. Myles Turner chipped in 12 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double this month.
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (23-9): Health has been an issue of late, as guards Kyle Lowry (thigh) and Fred VanVleet (back) and forward Pascal Siakam (back) all missed Sunday’s loss. Center Jonas Valanciunas was lost during the trip to a thumb injury that will keep him out for up to a month and forward Norman Powell (shoulder) has missed for over a month, although he may return Wednesday. Leonard averaged 28.5 points in the final two games of the trip after sitting out the first two due to a hip issue.
1. The Raptors have lost four consecutive games with Leonard in the lineup.
2. Indiana has held eight straight opponents to 101 points or fewer.
3. Toronto has won nine meetings in a row at home.