Less than 24 hours after their huge win over Golden State, the Indiana Pacers put up one of the worst shooting exhibitions in franchise history in an ugly, ugly loss to the Toronto Raptors. The Pacers shot just 29.1%, their worst shooting performance as a franchise since 2011 and just their fifth game under 30% in the last 25 years.
So it’s not a surprise the Pacers never led in this one. Despite how awful their shooting woes were, trailing 26-9 in the late stages of the first quarter, the Pacers trimmed the lead to just four halfway through the second. The door was open for Indiana in large part due to their ability to force turnovers on Toronto while also limiting their effectiveness shooting.
The Raptors were a one-man show tonight, bailed out time and time again by Serge Ibaka, who was the only Toronto starter to shoot above 50%, scoring 25 on 10-13 shooting. That kind of explosion was a necessity for the Raptors, who otherwise were as big a mess as Indiana.
Unfortunately for the Pacers, however, they had no one who even approached that. While Glenn Robinson III would eventually go on to be Indiana’s leading scorer with 12 points, it was Trevor Booker who led the way most of the night, scoring seven at the half and finishing with 11 overall.
The inability to get anything going offensively eventually caught up to the Pacers as the Raptors were able to open up just enough to push the lead from 12 to 20, allowing them to coast to victory in a game where they would have been comfortably ahead in a two possession game.
Along with Booker and Robinson, the Pacers also got a positive showing from Lance Stephenson, who had some big hustle plays and led the way with eight rebounds even though he too couldn’t find the bottom of the net. No one in the starting lineup scored more than five, that dubious honor going to both Victor Oladipo and Bojan Bogdanovic, who had just scored 49 combined points last night.
In the end, this was one of those games for the Pacers. They appeared spent from the opening tip, but still managed to stay in the game for two and a half quarters against the now locked in #1 seed Raptors, which is about as far as the moral victories can travel. While the Pacers finished their back-to-back schedule at 6-8, their overall play in these games was a marked improvement over recent years where they’d have rolled over from the tip.
The Pacers drop to 47-33 on the year and will see a new name across from them in the playoff standings after Philadelphia held on for dear life against Cleveland for a thrilling 132-130 victory. The win pushed the Sixers into third place while Cleveland slipped to fourth, now setting up another potential Pacers/Cavs first round series.
Tonight’s loss will more or less lock the Pacers into the fifth seed heading into the playoffs. The fourth seed and home court is still technically in play for the Pacers, but it will require Indiana sweep their home-and-home against Charlotte and that either Cleveland or Philadephia to lose out.
That’s highly unlikely given the competition both teams face down the stretch, but Indiana will still have to wait until the final day to know exactly who they’ll be facing. Philadelphia leads by a half game over Cleveland, but Cleveland will hold the tiebreaker in the event the two teams finish with the same record.
The Cavs be favored two sweep their own home-and-home against New York, but Philly controls its own destiny with games against Dallas and Atlanta. The Sixers will be hosting Milwaukee on the final day on the second night of a back-to-back, leaving a glimmer of hope that they’ll too fall victim to the schedule makers like both Indiana and Cleveland did tonight.