Less than 24 hours after a triple-overtime loss to the Utah Jazz, the Toronto Raptors will face the Indiana Pacers on the road.
The Raptors will likely again be without Kyle Lowry, Alan Anderson and Landry Fields as they face a struggling Pacers team that is trying to find its rhythm without leading scorer Danny Granger.
Here are some key issues heading into tonight’s game.
1. Casey’s coaching in late-game situations
Jazz centre Al Jefferson hit only the second three-pointer of his nine-year career to tie Monday’s loss with just seconds remaining, and although it was a lucky shot, it never should have gotten to that point. The Raptors should have fouled a Jazz player allowing them to shoot a pair of free throws but they failed to.
“I would have fouled. No question,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey told the National Post. “It was in a scramble. When it started, grab Jefferson.
“Any other time, we have a rule: We’re going to foul in that situation.”
But the Raptors didn’t and this is not the first time we have seen the Raptors coach make a questionable move late in a game.
For example, in a close loss to the Lakers last February, Rasual Butler was inserted into a game to complete an inbounds play with 4.2 seconds and the Raptors trailing by a single point. Butler had not played a minute in the game and a five-second call ensued with the Raptors eventually falling 94-92.
2. Tired legs for Raptors
Immediately following the loss to Utah, the Raptors were on a flight to Indiana for their third game in four nights.
With the Raptors injuries mounting, shooting guard DeMar DeRozan played 60 minutes against the Jazz on Monday night falling on the heels of playing 37 minutes against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night. DeRozan matched his career high with 37 points against Utah but it remains to be seen how much he will have left in the tank one night later against Indiana.
He was not the only player who saw an abundance of court time against the Jazz. Point guard Jose Calderon and power forward Andrea Bargnani also played close to 50 minutes in the lengthy affair.
The Raptors are going to have to go deeper into their bench early against Indiana if they are going to compete.
3. Granger injury
Many expected the Indiana Pacers to be in the top half of the standings this season, a year after they took the Miami Heat to six games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
An injury to leading scorer Danny Granger and some new faces on their bench have left this team struggling early.
“When you’re dealing with new guys, a new rotation, new roles for everybody, both with the shifted bench and with Danny being out, it does shrink your margin for error,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel told the Indianapolis Star. “I think a lot can be said on why we have been in so many close games.”
With Granger, the 3-4 Pacers are learning that they need to execute with pinpoint precision.