The Indiana Pacers have put together a very impressive stretch over the last few weeks. The Eastern Conference was expected to be very crowded at the top with the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and Toronto Raptors being labeled as the elite teams. However, the Pacers have certainly thrown a wrench into those expectations as they currently sit in third place with a 20-11 record and trail the Raptors by just 2.5 games for the top seed. The team is coming off recent wins over the Sixers and Milwaukee Bucks, and have shown that they have the talent to compete.
On the other side, the Raptors have arguably been the most dominant team in the NBA so far. However, the team has been bitten by the injury bug as of late. Center Jonas Valanciunas will miss at least the next few weeks with a thumb injury and Toronto’s frontcourt depth takes a huge hit as a result. The Raptors have dropped their past two games against the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers and are badly in need of a victory when they take on a very strong Pacers squad.
With both teams coming off losses, it could be a very intriguing affair north of the border.
How to watch
- Date: Wednesday, Dec. 19
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Scotiabank Arena — Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- Streaming: fuboTV – (free trial – NBA League Pass add-on available)
- Live stats: GameTracker
- Odds: Raptors -7.5
Odds and analysis
Check Sportsline’s NBA pick sheet for all your daily odds.
Pacers: It’s safe to say that Indiana has been one of the hottest teams around the league this month. The Pacers had won seven consecutive games before falling victim to the Cavaliers in Tuesday’s buzzer-beating loss. The team’s recent success was very impressive considering that guard Victor Oladipo just returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with a right knee injury. Oladipo has finished in double figures in all four games since returning, including a 26-point performance against the New York Knicks on Sunday. However, Oladipo missed 11 of his 15 field-goal attempts against Cleveland on Tuesday, so it’ll be worth watching if he can get back on track.
Raptors: Wednesday’s contest is certainly going to be very interesting from Toronto’s side. The Raptors were already without center Jonas Valanciunas and now the team won’t have the services of Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka against the Pacers. Without Ibaka and Valanciunas, Toronto’s frontcourt is very thin and the team may elect to go for a smaller lineup similar to what they did against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday. Forward Pascal Siakam is available to play after dealing with back stiffness, but it’s unclear what his workload will look like. It’s safe to say that the Raptors are going to have to rely on Kawhi Leonard and their backcourt to provide the bulk of the scoring this time around.
Game prediction, pick
Both teams are coming off losses and certainly would love to get back into the win column. It’s a game that the Pacers definitely have a chance to win with the Raptors being shorthanded. Indiana definitely has a chance to cover and possibly win outright. Take the Pacers — even on the road.