We could sit here and talk about all the reasons why this is an important game for the Pacers. Like, with 15 of the team's first 22 games on the road, it's important that it win as many winnable road games as possible. And fewer things are a more harmonious match than "winnable" and this current lot of Toronto Raptors. Another storyline is that the Pacers will be atop the league this season in games played without rest. Twenty-three such games to be exact. So, when afforded a night's rest before gameday, the Pacers best be looking to take advantage.
All that's too easy, though. Too predictable. Luckily for us, these two teams offer more than just your run-of-the-mill, "need to win this game" fodder. Just ask Danny Granger, who had this to say after these two teams last met in March:
As upset as they were at themselves after another poor effort, the Pacers were angrier at Toronto after Barbosa drove to the basket with six seconds left and his team leading by 10 points.
"If I was on him, I would have took his head off and I would have been suspended for a game for a flagrant foul," Danny Granger fumed. "Stuff like that will sit in the back of your head the next time we play Toronto. We don't play them again but if I was on him, I would have taken his neck off."
Cha-ching! That's right, we've got ourselves the potential for a good-ol'-fashioned revenge bout in Toronto, folks, so make sure you get yourself a front-row seat. Or, if more appropriate, get yourself in front of the tube, without distractions, of course.
To be fair to the Raptors, their running up of the score was allegedly in response to Indiana doing the same thing in an earlier-season matchup. Either way, the drama level just reached DEFCON Blue, or Gold, or...whatever, and heaven knows both teams could use the added spice to an otherwise nondescript, early-season matchup.
After the jump, some more matchup morsels, and associated questions.
Some Raptors' Tidbits
They're young. They're rebuilding. And...they shouldn't be much of a threat...The man known as their best prospect is currently playing in Europe (Jonas Valanciunas), and most likely won't be seen wearing Raptors' camouflage until 2012-2013, or some time after...Jose Calderon channeled his inner 2008-2009 with 15 points and 11 assists in a 104-96 victory against the Cavaliers on Monday night...Andrea Bargnani put up 13 points and 6 rebounds in the same game, he's still tall, versatile, talented, and...mediocre. Ed Davis has the look of a nice prospect with size, length, and athleticism. On a team with rebuilding on the mind, why isn't he starting?
Some Pacers' Tidbits
Roy Hibbert can be such a tease. He'll soft his way through games (e.g. against the Chicago Bulls during the playoffs and preseason), then remind you of why fans and front-office diehards value him so highly (e.g. 16 points, 14 rebounds, 3 blocks against Detroit). Will the real Big Roy please stand up?...Had to love the rebounding prowess on display Monday night as three players finished with double-digit totals, and five players had at least four rebounds or more...But maybe even more impressive was the ball distribution, as on a cold-shooting night, four Pacers had three assists or more...What happens if this team becomes even moderately competent offensively?
Matchups and Questions
PG: Darren Collison vs. Jose Calderon
Question: Can Collison defend well enough to trouble Calderon's distribution? Or, might we see George play here defensively?
SG: Paul George vs. DeMar DeRozan
Question: Who wins the battle of elite athletes? Give me Paul George and his multi-diemnsional game.
SF: Rasual Butler/James Johnson vs. Danny Granger
Question: With revenge on the mind, and nary a wing defender in Toronto to stop him, what stops Danny from offering an efficient 25+ points?
PF: David West vs. Amir Johnson
Question: How much longer before the rust wears off and West reverts back to all-star form? I'm thinking playing Toronto may help hurry up the process.
C: Roy Hibbert vs. Andrea Bargnani
Question: How many Pacer fans will be shaking their heads in disgust thinking about how under the "former coach who must not be named" (starts with a J ends with and OB), Hibbert wouldn't be starting this game for "matchup reasons?" Time to move on, I suppose...but some make it so difficult to do so.
Who's it going to be? Hansbrough? Hill? Stephenson? A little Dahntay Jones action? Does it really matter? The options are plentiful, and boast-worthy.
It's gameday, enjoy!