2016 NBA Playoffs
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Game #1
#7 Indiana Pacers at #2 Toronto Raptors
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-2-1-1-1
Air Canada Centre – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, April 16, 2016, 12:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Toronto -6
Current Line: Toronto -6 1/2 (-115)
Opening Total: 196
Current Total: 194
Opening Money Line: Raptors -245 / Pacers +205
Current Money Line: Raptors -280 / Pacers +240
The 56-26 Toronto Raptors won the Atlantic Division for the third straight season by 8 games over the Boston Celtics. However, the Raptors have been upset in the first round of the playoffs in the last two seasons. The Raptors have only won one playoff series in their history back in 2001. The Raptors are the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference and will take on the #7 seed Indiana Pacers in the first round this season. The Pacers finished second in the Central Division but were 12 games behind the #1 seed Cleveland Cavaliers. The winner between the Raptors and Pacers will face either the #3 seed Miami Heat or #6 Charlotte Hornets in the conference semifinals.
Indiana is coached by Frank Vogel. The Pacers return to the playoffs after missing last year. Before that Indiana had gone to the playoffs for four straight seasons, including trips to the conference finals in 2013 and 2014. The Pacers won their last three games of the season to not only clinch a playoff spot but avoid the Cavaliers in the first round. The Pacers beat the Bucks 97-92 in Milwaukee Wednesday night in the regular season finale. Indiana is 41-40-1 ATS and the total is 37-45 this season.
Toronto is coached by Dwayne Casey. The Raptors had the best season in franchise history and have won four straight games. Toronto won at the Brooklyn Nets 103-96 Wednesday in the regular season finale. The Raptors are 45-37 and the total is 42-39-1 this season.
Toronto took three of four games from Indiana this season. The Raptors won in Toronto 106-99 October 28 and 111-98 April 8. Toronto also won in Indianapolis 101-94 in overtime March 17. The only Pacer win against the Raptors came 106-90 in Indianapolis December 14. This is the first ever playoff meeting between the teams.
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Indiana is outscoring teams 102-101 this season. The Pacers are #8 in points allowed in the league. Indiana is shooting 45% from the field and 35.1% from three point range. The Pacers make 76.4% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 44% from the field and 33.4% from three point range. The Pacers are #6 or better in both categories. Indiana averages 44.2 rebounds per game and opponents average 44.5 per game. The Pacers average 21.2 assists, 14.3 turnovers, 9.1 steals and 4.8 blocks per game.
Forward Paul George will likely win the Comeback Player of the year after missing all but a handful of games last season with a horrific broken leg. He averages 23.1 points, 7 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game. He is probable with an ankle injury. Guard Monta Ellis averages 13.8 points, 3.3 rebounds 4.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game. Guard George Hill averages 12.1 points, 4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Forward C.J. Miles averages 11.8 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. He is probable with a shoulder injury. Forward Myles Turner averages 10.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Ian Mahinmi, Rodney Stuckey, Jordan Hill, Lavoy Allen and Ty Lawson will also get minutes in the rotation.
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Toronto is outscoring teams 103-98 this season. The Raptors are #3 in points allowed this season. Toronto is shooting 45.1% from the field and 37% from three point range. The Raptors are #5 in three point shooting. Toronto makes 77.7% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 44.4% from the field and 37.3% from three point range. The Raptors are #29 in three point defense. Toronto averages 43.4 rebounds per game and opponents average 40.8 per game. The Raptors are #4 in rebounds allowed. Toronto averages 18.7 assists, 12.1 turnovers, 7.8 steals and 5.5 blocks per game.
Guard DeMar DeRozan averages 23.5 points per game, 4.5 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal per game. Guard Kyle Lowry averages 21.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. Center Jonas Valanciunas averages 12.8 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. Forward DeMarre Carroll averages 11 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. Terrance Ross, Luis Scola, Cory Joseph, Patrick Patterson, Bismack Biyambo and James Johnson will also get some minutes in the rotation. Johnson is probable with a foot injury.
Indiana is 15-3 ATS on two days rest, 4-1 overall and against Eastern Conference teams, 8-17-1 in Saturday games, 6-14-1 after a straight up win, and 2-6 after a cover. The over is 6-2 overall in this series including 4-0 in Toronto.
Toronto is 4-0 ATS in home games, 6-1 in Saturday games, 4-1 against teams with losing road records, 5-2 overall and against Eastern Conference teams, 2-5 after failing to cover, and 0-7 in first round playoff games. The Raptors are 40-19 ATS against the Pacers recently including 22-7 in Toronto.
Cleveland and Toronto separated themselves from the rest of the Eastern Conference. However, only four games separated the other six teams. In fact their was a four way tie for the third best record in the conference. Indiana is a veteran team and will not be intimidated by Toronto even on the road. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Pacers somehow stole one of the first two games on the road before the series shifts to Indianapolis. I like the Raptors to pull away late in a low scoring game one though.