NBA on ESPN Friday Night Picks: Toronto Raptors at Indiana Pacers

Toronto at Indiana

Time: 7 PM CST (ESPN)

Spread: TOR -3

Total: 219.5

Odds c/o 5dimes

The Toronto Raptors are 37-14 and in second place in the Eastern Conference. Toronto is 27-7 against fellow Eastern Conference team as it heads to Indiana to face the Pacers in the first game of a Friday night ESPN doubleheader. Toronto is listed as 3-point favorites with the over/under set at 219.5 points according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.

INDIANA news & notes:

The Indiana Pacers have won five of its last 10 overall and are seeded No. 5 in the East, one game behind No. 4 Boston and six games behind No. 2 Toronto while trailing No. 3 Boston by 4.5 games. The Pacers could climb with Victor Oladipo having returned and already in strong form. It defeated the Phoenix Suns 112-87 last outing while getting 49 points from its starting forwards Domantas Sabonis and TJ Warren. Malcolm Brogdon played just 16 minutes, scoring five, but the Pacers bench produced three double-digit scorers, including Doug McDermott’s 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting. The Pacers have strong depth and are a real threat to contend in the East when Oladipo returns. Indiana is 12-11 SU on the road this season.

Without Oladipo, the scoring load has been arbored by Warren, Sabonis, and Brogdon. Warren leads the team at 18 points per game, while Sabonis is at 17.9 and Brogdon tallies 17.1 per game. The Pacers, though, have seven players averaging 10 points per game or more, including all five starters currently. Adding a top-end talent like Oladipo to this strong pack of role players should indeed make for a team capable of challenging the East’s best.

Sabonis has emerged as a major threat this season in averaging 17.9 points and 12.9 rebounds per game. Jeremy Lamb has started all 34 games he has appeared in while averaging 12.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. The Pacers should have a strong three-guard rotation with Lamb, Brogdon, and Oladipo—when the three are all healthy together at last. Sabonis also seems to complement Myles Turner well. The two share time at center and function well as a pair when used in bigger lineups. Everything seems in-balance with the Pacers.

TORONTO

The Raptors were expected to regress following the loss of Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, and the team has started to show more signs of it in recent weeks, as winners of six of its last 10 games. The Raptors are still likely a top-4 team in the Eastern Conference, but the absence of Pascal Siakam has proved to be a lot to make up for. Serge Ibaka is up for the task as one of the best reserves forwards in the league, but Siakam’s production is simply too much to make up for. Ibaka had 21 points and 12 rebounds in the Raptors’ 121-102 victory over Brooklyn, but the absence of a true No. 1 option has made things stickier for the Raptors.

Pascal Siakam was averaging 25.1 points, eight rebounds, and 3.6 assists prior to suffering an injury to his groin. He practiced in a light on-court workout on Monday, but he is still not ready for gameplay quite yet. In his absence, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet have picked up a lot of that slack on the scoring. VanVleet is averaging 18 points and seven assists, having his finest NBA season to date. Lowry is still rock solid and consistent, with averages of 20.9 points and 7.4 assists per game. Together, the pair is a tough backcourt that has helped make up for the absence of Pascal.

OG Anunoby is rebounding after a tough year a season ago and he has averaged 11 points and six boards per game in just under 30 minutes a night. What made Toronto a great team was not Leonard, but it was Toronto’s depth, the same depth that has thus far managed a loss to its de facto leader in Siakam.

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