NBA Basketball

Pacers-Raptors Preview

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

The surging Indiana Pacers have won six games in a row and 13 of their past 15.

The real test comes Sunday night, however, when they visit the Toronto Raptors, who have given them trouble recently.

The Raptors, who had a fast start to the season, are 10-8 since Dec.1 after an impressive 123-116 victory Saturday night against the Bucks in Milwaukee. The Bucks had won the first two meetings between the teams.

The Raptors rebounded from a difficult loss at San Antonio on Thursday.

The Pacers have lost four in a row and 13 of their past 16 regular-season games against the Raptors, and they have lost 10 in a row in Toronto. Indiana last won in Toronto on March 1, 2013.

In their most recent visit to Toronto, the Pacers could not hold a 17-point second-half lead, and Fred VanVleet nailed the go-ahead 3-pointer with 26.4 seconds to play as the Raptors won 99-96 Dec. 19 at the Scotiabank Arena. VanVleet had nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, and Kawhi Leonard had nine of his 28 points in the fourth.

The Pacers have not lost since. They did not help themselves in the first game against the Raptors, committing 20 turnovers.

"Those guys are long, they are active, athletic," said Pacers forward Thaddeus Young, who scored 11 points and had five rebounds in that contest. "We know what Kawhi (Leonard) can do as far as defending the ball, getting up into the guys. We just can't play with the ball in front of him and we just have to move the ball, keep him away from the ball and make sure we get guys who he's guarding on the move as opposed to just standing still and then trying to go."

After defeating the Chicago Bulls 119-116 in overtime Friday night, the Pacers had Saturday off while the Raptors played in Milwaukee.Kawhi Leonard, who had 30 points Saturday, has yet to play in both ends of a back-to-back this season after missing most of last season with a quadriceps injury. He is expected to get the chance to do so Sunday despite playing 38 minutes Saturday.

"We will take it and see how this game goes and how he feels after tonight," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said before the game Saturday. "We are planning on rolling with him unless something changes after the game tonight."

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry could return to action Sunday after missing six straight games with a back issue.

The Pacers' Victor Oladipo, who scored 20 points but made six turnovers in the Toronto loss, matched his season-best with 36 points Friday at the United Center. He banked in the winning 28-foot 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds to play, giving him nine points in the overtime.

"That's a hell of a shot," Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. "I don't know if he called bank on it, but I'll take it. You got to make plays and he felt it.""I mean, he had it going, so we wanted to just keep trusting him," Young said. "He's our star. He's our guy."

The Pacers are 26-12. The Raptors, meanwhile, reached the halfway point of their schedule with a 29-12 record.

"I think you don't want to judge too much just where we are all the time," Nurse said. "I make that mistake in golf a lot. I will be 1 under after eight, and I start thinking, 'Gosh, I'm going to shoot 70 today.' Then, all of a sudden, I double the next three holes because I'm thinking about the final score.

"I like our roster. I like who we are. I like our capabilities. I think there is still a lot of growth. I think we need to continue to be a little more consistent in some areas, and I think we need to shoot the ball a little better which, and I keep saying this, I think we will."

Updated January 6, 2019

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