Raptors Visit The New and Improved Pacers.

The Pacers are a .500 basketball team which might be a surprise to a lot of folks. They made some changes in the off-season and it seems to at least early worked out. They also have former Raptor for about a couple weeks in Roy Hibbert. I was a huge fan of Roy Hibbert and actually endorsed the Raptors drafting him. They did of course draft him but were picking for the Pacers as part of the ill-fated J.O trade that saw T.J Ford and Hibbert go the other way along with Rasho Nesterovic. I don't think anyone would realize perhaps the worst part of that trade was Hibbert going to the Pacers. Nathan Jawai the 2nd round pick the Raptors got in the deal is no longer in the league. While Roy was become one of the better young centers in the league. The Georgetown product is averaging 15.6 points per game and 8.8 rebounds along with 3 assists at the Center position. In his third year in the NBA he has improved his numbers ever year just like he did at Georgetown. As you watch the Raptors and Pacers tonight you might be like me and wonder what might have been.

The Basics: Pacers 9-9 (4-5 at Home) Raptors 8-12 (2-7 on Road)

When Last We Saw Them: Raptors defence was getting taken to school in a major way. It was a disappointing start and it never really got much better the rest of the day. The closest the Raptors would get was to within 5 points of the Knicks only to watch them pull back away. Great efforts from Amir Johnson and Jerryd Bayless were wasted. The Raptors looked like the road team that stayed out way to late and could not answer the bell.

Key Match-ups: Danny Granger will likely match-up with Sonny Weems who was not great vs New York and draws a tougher assignment today against Granger. Some Raptor fans wanted to take Danny Granger back in the day instead of Joey Graham. Retrospect is a beautiful thing isn't it. At the time knee concerns made a lot of teams back away from Granger as a result. While he has had his share of injuries he has become the leader of this Pacers club. While Graham is now on his 3rd NBA team. Granger can take and make the 3 if you do not respect him shooting 39.3% from 3 on the season. The biggest piece the Pacers added in the off-season was Darren Collison acquired in a 4 team deal in the off-season. In 15 games with the Pacers his scoring and 3 point % is up slightly and his FG% and assists have taken a slight dip in comparison to his numbers in New Orleans. Jose Calderon was ill prior to the game yesterday vs New York. Not sure how he is feeling today but he has a tough match-up to deal with in Collison. Oh yeah T.J Ford is still a Pacer as well and if those two hook up it will be on. Finally we mentioned him off the top Roy Hibbert is a force to be dealt with. If the Raptors stick Bargnani on him that could be ugly. If they don't and use Amir that would be a big size advantage for Roy. On the offensive side of things, Bargnani should have no problems with Hibbert if he takes him away from the basket. Unless the Pacers decide to try what New York did, with an unconventional match-up against him.

Other Things of Note: The Raptors are 7-21 in Indiana all time and have lost 4 straight @ Indiana. The last win came in February of 2008. Pacers average 6.7 blocks per game in comparison to the Raptors just 3.2. The Raptors average 12.6 offensive rebounds per game on the season. You are saying but wait a second that was with Reggie Evans in there. But in the 4 games since Raptors have averaged 12 rebounds on the offensive glass including 14 in the loss to the Knicks. Pacers average just under 10 with 9.8 rebounds on the offensive glass. Pacers are returning home from a trip out west in which they dropped the last 2 games of the trip to the Jazz and Suns. How you start is important if your the Raptors. If they lead after opening quarter they are 5-1 and when they trail after 1 they are 3-11.

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