Toronto Raptors: Previewing the 5 biggest games of the New Year

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
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Jan. 23- Toronto Raptors at Indiana Pacers

Key Matchup: Raptors’ bigs vs. Myles Turner

Where the aforementioned Rockets’ season was a roller coaster, the Indiana Pacers’ year has been a direct opposite.

Through the season’s first 2.5 months, the Pacers have yet to drop more than two games in a row, with six of their wins coming without Victor Oladipo, the team’s leader. The team’s depth has been tested with various injuries but failed to cede to the ailments at any point.

The team also has the second-best net rating in the league, trailing only the Milwaukee Bucks. Their success comes once again despite a true second star alongside Oladipo.

Dating back to last year, the Raptors have won four of the previous five matchups. Though the team’s will player once before their late-January bout, the latter comes on the second leg of a back-to-back set with the Sacramento Kings at home to open.

The Kings have been an adequate west coast foe for much of the year, signaling the matchup at Bankers Life Fieldhouse will be one with fatigue mixed in.

The key to beating the Pacers this year: Stopping Myles Turner.

In Turner’s 10 highest scoring games this year for the Pacers, the team has a 9-1 record. In his 10 best +/- performances, the team has yet to fall.

After a breakout sophomore season, Turner has yet to fully reach his potential, falling short of lofty expectations each year. This year, Turner started slow once again, turning up his production as of late.

In his last 10 games, Turner has tallied double-digit scoring in nine of them, his apex being a 24-point burst against the New York Knicks.

The men who will be tasked with stopping Turner are both Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas, with the latter being questionable to play in that matchup after a thumb dislocation.

If the Raptors’ bigs can find a way to limit Turner to single digits in scoring, regardless of Oladipo’s output, they have a good chance to beat the Pacers yet again.