April 8, 2012; Oklahoma City OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) is fouled by Toronto Raptors point guard Jose Calderon (8) during the first quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

Game Preview: Toronto Raptors @ Indiana Pacers


Raptors (20-37, lost last 2) @ Pacers (34-22, lost last 1)

Key Stats

Toronto

 * 91.42 points per game (27th in the NBA) vs. 94.79 points allowed per game (12th)

* 44.2% FG (20th) vs. 43.7% FG allowed (9th)

* 41.56 rpg (21st) vs. 40.06 rebounds allowed (6th)

* 21.70 apg (12th) vs. 15.14 TO pg (19th)

Indiana

* 96.57 ppg (17th) vs. 93.59 points allowed (9th)

* 43.8% FG (22nd) vs. 43.5% FG allowed (8th)

* 43.29 rppg (6th) vs. 41.93 rebounds allowed (16th)

* 18.25appg (30th) vs. 14.30 TO pg (12th)

Position-by-position Matchups

PG-Jose Calderon vs. Darren Collison

SG-Demar DeRozan vs. Paul George

SF-Alan Anderson vs. Danny Granger

PF-Andrea Bargnani vs. David West

C-Aaron Gray vs. Roy Hibbert

Key Reserves

Toronto-James Johnson, Amir Johnson, Ed Davis, Gary Forbes

Indiana-Tyler Hansbrough, Leandro Barbosa, George Hill, Dahntay Jones, Lou Amundson

Injuries of note

Toronto-Andrea Bargnani (calf, questionable)

Indiana-None

Breakdown:

The Pacers looked tired and apathetic against a Boston team that’s probably not as good as it looks on paper. These Raptors, despite their record and statistical evidence to the contrary, actually have quite a bit of talent, and have given the Pacers fits in the past. James Johnson, the team’s most versatile wing player, is one game removed from back-to-back DNPs that are, thus far, unexplained, so there may be some lockerroom cohesiveness issues going on. It’s up in the air as to whether Johnson will rejoin his teammates in the starting lineup tonight, or continue coming off of the bench as he did last night. The rest of Toronto’s talented young core consists of guys with loads of athleticism and potential, but as a group this is a team that has generally failed to gel yet, and will need at least another (full) off-season before it can make a run at .500. But the team can win, starting the month of April with a three-game streak, including a road victory at Philadelphia, another team struggling to find consistency down the stretch.

Indiana was exposed as lazy and indecisive on Saturday, but the culprit could have been fatigue. After resting up on Easter Sunday, Indiana won’t have that excuse tonight. At home, vs. a losing opponent, with only a tenuous grasp on the Eastern Conference’s #3 seed, the Pacers should be primed and motivated for a victory. The Raptors have size in its trio of Aaron Gray, Amir Johnson and Ed Davis, but none can legitimately bang with Roy Hibbert when he’s rolling, as he was on Friday vs. the Thunder. Jose Calderon, one of Toronto’s only true veterans, has great court vision and could exploit the smaller Darren Collison, but he’ll need help from his shooters. The Raptors were terrible from the floor last night, and were blown out in large part due to offensive ineptness. As star forward Andrea Bargnani goes, so do the Raptors’ chances to score. Bargnani left Sunday’s game after just 13 minutes of action with soreness to the same balky calf that’s hampered him for much of the season. If Bargnani can’t go tonight, and the Pacers get out to an early lead, it will be difficult for Toronto to shoot themselves back into it no matter how well Calderon plays.

Whether Bargnani plays or not, the Raptors lack true leadership, and need more go-to scorers. They’re clearly not in “win-now” mode, which was evidenced by their deadline deal of Leandro Barbosa to the Pacers for a second round pick. Barbosa is an electric scorer, capable of shooting out of slumps, which is basically what the Raptors need more of. With Barbosa on the opposing team tonight, and Bargnani potentially out, the Raptors may need the Pacers to beat themselves, as they did on Saturday vs. Boston.

Prediction: Pacers 98, Raptors 85

Saturday’s loss was discouraging. Boston is the type of team Indiana will need to dominate in order to have prolonged success in the playoffs this year. Tonight’s game will give the team a chance to start from scratch before facing a slate of beatable opponents to end the season before the finale vs. Chicago. With effort, and some big leads to give the starters some rest, Indiana can realistically go on a nice run to close out the year close to 40 wins. But if they look past any of the next few opponents, and shoot themselves in the foot with turnovers and lazy shot selection, the Pacers could lose ground in the playoff seedings. I believe they’ll take care of business tonight.

Fantasy Outlook:

James Johnson has been a nice source of blocks/steals all year, and he could get a chance for extended minutes tonight if Bargnani can’t go. He was atrocious shooting the ball yesterday (2-11) but still finished with three combined blocks/steals. Calderon is the de facto best statistical option on Toronto’s roster right now. I was able to pick him up off of waivers a few weeks ago, but I doubt he’s widely available.

You should be entering into your fantasy championship week, and there’s very little you can do with your Pacers, except hope they can remain motivated and consistent.

Lucas Klipsch believes in justice. Follow him on Twitter @LukeNukem317