Nov 6, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) shoots free throws during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bulls at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers won 97-80. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Raps (2-3) @ Pacers (5-0) tonight - is a win in the cards?

The Toronto Raptors, having fumbled away a win in Charlotte, are in Indianapolis for a date with the NBA’s only undefeated team. Indiana was expected to be strong, and has started the season exactly as advertised, unlike rivals Chicago and the Knicks. If Toronto is going to have any chance against this team, the Raps will need to:

Nov 6, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson (9) shoots as he is guarded by Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson (15) during the game at Time Warner Cable Arena. Bobcats win 92-90. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

  • Keep the ball moving on offense. It’s time for Dwane Casey to lower the boom on Rudy Gay and his ball-stopping ways. If Rudy doesn’t pass on two consecutive trips down the floor, he sits down. The Raps have to show some variety on O. Get the ball inside to Jonas Valanciunas and let him isolate on Roy Hibbert. No one’s saying that’s an automatic bucket, but the young man has to get involved, or we stagnate. He’s smart enough to know when to take a good shot, and when to kick it back out if  the shot is not there.
  • Stop trying to play small ball so much. Keep two bigs on the floor at least half the game. Amir Johnson is woefully under-rated and -used as a option on offense. He slices to the basket nicely, can and will dish to a fellow big underneath, and can even keep defenses honest by nailing a 3-ball if left unattended. Tyler Hansbrough has shown a consistent ability to finish near the bucket, either with an offensive rebound or off a pass. He was a high scorer in college; what we’re seeing is not a fluke.
  • Accept the fact we will need to grind it out against this team. In the Pacers’ five wins, no opponent has come close to scoring 100 points against them, in fact, Detroit was the only squad to get as high as 91. However, the Pacers haven’t broken a century either. The Raps may be taking a lot of tough shots late in the clock, but so has everyone else. Patience and grit will be called for.

It’s too early in the season for the Raps to be dysfunctional, but that’s how I see them at the moment. Unless Dwane Casey has got religion since Tuesday, and keeps his big men on the floor, we’re not going to enjoy a happy result. I see no reason to pick against Indiana, so in a nasty, foul-filled match, I’m calling Pacers 93-Raps 88.

Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

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Tags: Amir Johnson Indiana Pacers Jonas Valanciunas Raptors Roy Hibbert Toronto Raptors Tyler Hansbrough

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