Toronto Raptors: Three takeaways from tough loss to Pacers

Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors trailed all game but nearly came back to beat the Indiana Pacers. What did we learn from the disappointing loss?

The second night of a back-to-back is always difficult. Playing without your best player, on the road, against one of the best teams in the league, makes it more difficult. The Toronto Raptors were against the schedule last night. They still were a couple of mistakes away from getting a win.

Toronto trailed all game. The Indiana Pacers took control from the opening tip, and midway through the third quarter, their lead peaked at 15. The Raptors fought, clawed, and scraped their way back into the game. A couple of lineup changes and an unfortunate Pacer injury helped them out.

Ultimately, the Pacers proved to be too much. The Raptors had back-to-back defensive mistakes in the final minutes (Leaving Myles Turner wide open at the free-throw line and switching Kyle Lowry onto a powerforward). That’s enough to cost you the game against Indiana. What did we learn from the game? Here my the three big takeaways:

1. Injuries suck

Midway through the second quarter, Kyle Lowry bombed an outlet pass to Pascal Siakam. Siakam was one-on-one with Victor Oladipo and had an easy post-up until Oladipo tripped and rolled up on the back of Siakam’s leg. Except it wasn’t a trip. Oladipo went down with a right-knee injury, and the first reports don’t appear good. Hopefully, it’s a false alarm, although that seems unlikely.

With Oladipo out, the Pacers season is likely finished. They have plenty of other talented pieces and they’ll still make the playoffs. Winning in the first-round should be thrown out the window.

2. Stop playing Greg Monroe

With Jonas Valanciunas injured, Nick Nurse has limited options. It doesn’t matter. Greg Monroe should not see the floor. He ranks in the bottom 20th percentile at his position in points per shot attempt, AST%, and in TOV%. (Per CTG). He’s not an effective offensive player, so it’s time we stop saying that.

Defensively, the limitations are obvious. He’s not a rim-protector, can’t move his feet, and is rebounding worse than ever before. The Raptors have a NetRtg of -7.8 whenever he is on the floor. Toronto needs to find another option.

Playing Pascal at center is Toronto’s best choice right now. Even Chris Boucher for spot minutes would be better.

3. A young Ibaka and JV

A mobile big man with the ability to stretch the floor offensively starting and a more traditional center who punishes second units on the glass and in the post. Sounds like Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas. It’s also a perfect description of Indiana’s big man rotation of Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis.

Watching Sabonis and Turner is like watching a younger, improved version of Ibaka and JV. Turner looks like a young Ibaka with current Ibaka’s range. Sabonis looks like the “new-car” version of JV, a little more mobile and a little more modern. Together they give Indiana an advantage at center over nearly every team in the league.

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