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Pacers seek payback Tuesday vs. Raptors
By: Zach Cohen - StatFox
Published: 1/7/2014  at  4:12:00 AM
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TORONTO RAPTORS (16-16)

at INDIANA PACERS (27-6)

Tip-off: Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Indiana -7.5, Total: 186.5

Two red-hot teams square off on Tuesday night when the Raptors visit the Pacers.

Before falling 102-97 in Miami on Sunday, Toronto had won five in a row (SU and ATS), and the club is 7-2 SU (8-1 ATS) in its past nine games, with the two defeats coming to both NBA Finals participants from last year, the Heat and the Spurs. The Pacers defeated the Cavaliers 82-78 on the road Sunday for their second straight victory and seventh win in their past eight contests (6-2 ATS). These two teams met six days ago on New Year's Day when the Raptors rolled to a 95-82 victory at home, improving them to 6-2 ATS (3-5 SU) in the past eight meetings with Indiana, including 4-0 ATS (2-2 SU) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Toronto is 13-5 ATS (10-8 SU) on the road this season, and 17-4 ATS (81%) in road games against Central Division opponents over the past three seasons, but Indiana is 23-10 ATS (70%) overall this season, including 16-1 SU and 12-5 ATS (71%) at home. Both teams are pretty healthy for this matchup, but PF Tyler Hansbrough (ankle) is expected to miss the game for the Raptors.

Can the Pacers avenge last week's loss with a convincing win over the Raptors? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The five experts are sizzling on NBA Best Bets since the start of December, going 62% ATS (76-47-1) including 66% ATS (50-26-1) since Dec. 16. StatFox Dave has an excellent 73% ATS (19-7) Best Bets record since Dec. 1 and is 58% ATS (29-21) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Zach has a huge 71% ATS mark (17-7-1) since Dec. 1 and is currently 57% ATS (28-21-1) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Scott is 67% ATS (10-5) in Best Bets since Dec. 16, while StatFox Gary is also 67% ATS (10-5) in this same timeframe. Since Dec. 12, StatFox Brian is 65% ATS (11-6).

The Raptors have been playing incredible basketball as of late, going 9-3 SU (8-4 ATS) in their past dozen games where they have averaged 100.8 PPG on 45.3% FG and 38.1% threes. For the season, the team scores just 99.0 PPG (18th in NBA), but allows a mere 97.5 PPG (7th in league). The biggest reason Toronto has been so successful is behind the superb play of PG Kyle Lowry (15.7 PPG, 7.6 APG, 4.1 RPG). Over the past five games, Lowry is averaging 18.2 PPG (48% FG, 45% threes), 10.2 APG, 5.0 RPG and 2.2 SPG. He had 13 points and 14 assists in the game against the Pacers on Jan. 1, and should be able to exploit his matchup with Indiana point guard George Hill yet again. SG DeMar DeRozan (21.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.4 APG) had 26 points and nine rebounds in that game while also contributing three steals on the defensive end. DeRozan has scored at least 20 points in five of the past six games, where he's averaged 21.3 PPG and 5.3 RPG. SG Terrence Ross (9.3 PPG on 41% threes), who has thrived since the Raptors traded Rudy Gay, scored 18 points against the Pacers last Wednesday as part of his 13.8 PPG (47% threes) over the past five games. If Toronto can play the same brand of defense its has shown in the past five games (90.2 PPG on 43.4% FG allowed), it has a great chance to upset the Pacers again.

Indiana has not slowed down from a sizzling start to the season and its defense has been the biggest reason for that. The Pacers lead the NBA in scoring defense (88.6 PPG allowed), shooting defense (41.1% FG) and three-point defense (32.3% threes allowed), and are anchored defensively by C Roy Hibbert (12.5 PPG). The 7-foot-2 center is averaging 8.0 RPG and 2.7 BPG (2nd in NBA) this season, and he will need to play well in this game to stop this new and improved Raptors team. In last week's meeting, Hibbert scored 16 points in 21 minutes, but grabbed a paltry three rebounds before fouling out. SF Paul George (23.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 3.6 APG) had just 12 points and six turnovers with a minus-21 rating in that loss to the Raptors, and will need to bust out of a shooting slump (36% FG in past four games) as his team relies on him to score the basketball. PF David West (12.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG) has also struggled over the past four games, averaging just 9.0 PPG (37% FG) and 5.5 RPG. This included his nine points (3-of-9 FG) and seven boards in the loss to Toronto. PG George Hill, who will be tasked with slowing down Kyle Lowry, has been playing well as of late with 11.6 PPG (51% FG, 48% threes) over the past five contests, but he managed just six points and two assists in 31 minutes in New Year's Day loss to the Raptors. SG Lance Stephenson (13.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 5.1 APG) could be the X-factor in this game as he is difficult to stop once he gets going, and he was able to stuff the stat sheet in the Jan. 1 loss with eight points, six rebounds and four assists.

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