Tonight the Indiana Pacers travel to Toronto to face the Raptors, the team with the most wins so far this season.
However, this isn’t a full strength Raptors team – Kawhi Leonard is out tonight as part of his ‘load management’ to ensure he is in peak condition come the playoffs and Kyle Lowry is likely out again. The Raptors’ All-Star point guard has struggled with a back injury, missing 11 games since December 1st and averaging under 12 points per game on 36% shooting whilst making just 22% of his threes.
With the team’s two best players out (along with the long term absense of Jonas Valanciunas), I really fancy the Pacers in this matchup. Indiana are probably the mosst underrated team in the league this season, they’re currently sitting just one place behind the Raptors in third in the Eastern Conference. This is a serious team that would have a decent chance against a fully fit Raptors side, but with both Leonard and Lowry out they should really be favourites.
Additionally, the Raptors are coming off a game last night against the top seed Milwaukee Bucks that they managed to win by seven. Facing the two best teams in the conference one day after the other will be a real challenge for the depleted Raptors.
Meanwhile, Indiana are coming to Toronto in the midst of a six-game win streak and have won 13 of their last 15 games.
The Pacers are available at even money to win the game, but I think this is a game worth stretching the odds a bit. I like the Pacers -5.5 alternate handicap at 9/4 with Paddy Power – the team’s average margin of victory is a little over 6 points and I think they’ll be looking to make a statement in tonight’s game against a potential Conference Finals opponent.
Indiana Pacers -5.5 @ 9/4 – 1pt