Previewing the five most crucial Toronto Raptors’ games of December

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Dec. 19 – Toronto Raptors vs. Indiana Pacers

Key matchup: Danny Green against Victor Oladipo

With the departure of Paul George in 2017, the Indiana Pacers looked to be a lost team who gave up their star for scraps. Those scraps have changed the outlook of the franchise.

Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, both part of the George deal, have turned their careers around following their departure from Oklahoma City.

Oladipo, only a year after winning Most Improved Player, has continued his success. The guard is averaging 17.5 points and 3.9 assists on the year. The only thing that has hindered him has been a bulky right knee, something that should be an afterthought come the two teams’ matchup.

In the frontcourt, Sabonis has made up for the glaring weakness that Myles Turner has turned out to be. After being an afterthought last year, Sabonis has stepped up, playing with Turner on and off the court, and has averaged 15 and 10 per game.

A deep squad, the Pacers have five different players averaging double-digit scoring, with only Oladipo averaging over 20 (21.4). The Pacers on the year have missed Oladipo, losing three of their six games without him.

The aforementioned Oladipo will likely draw Danny Green with Lowry guarding Darren Collison. After being a defensive stalwart for the Spurs, Green has regressed thus far for the Raptors. The wing has tied his career-worst defensive rating 107 on the year.

As an older player, Green will be reliant on help defense on several of Oladipo’s patented drives. As a guard that relies heavily on a flurry of action at the rim, Oladipo will give Green a handful for much of the night.

If Green can contain Oladipo, limiting his drive and kick abilities, the Raptors will likely rout the visiting Pacers. If not, it will be a long game across the border for the Raptors.