Indiana Pacers: Domantas Sabonis will be the barometer against the Raptors

Indiana Pacers, Domantas Sabonis - Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana Pacers, Domantas Sabonis - Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /

After yet another sizzling start to the season for Domantas Sabonis, the Indiana Pacers’ lone All-Star in the past two campaigns, the big man has been relatively quiet in the last two contests. His  combined 25 points in both games, which coincided with the team registering its two lowest-scoring outputs so far, is a glaring sign that he has to be what he hasn’t been recently—assertive.

With his usual running mates shelved with injuries, Domas has to return to his expected alpha role on offense. Being taciturn and tentative essentially negated the Pacers’ supposed advantages in their loss to the Raptors and Nets, which is their size and physicality on the interior.

As Indiana makes a quick turnaround for another meeting with Toronto at home, the All-Star center will pretty much determine if the Blue and Gold can get out of their skid or fall victim once again to a common nemesis.

100. Bally Sports Indiana. Saturday, Oct 30. 1-5. . 7:30 PM ET. 3-3. 81

Domantas Sabonis should lead the way for the Indiana Pacers against the Raptors

The Indiana Pacers’ recent loss to the Raptors was, by most accounts, self-inflicted. With Toronto short on physically imposing players who can viably guard Sabonis on the post in one-on-one situations, they instead forced the team to scramble as they pressured entry passes on the inside, taking away Domas’ post-ups which would’ve been difficult for them to stop, as the All-Star is currently logging the highest field goal percentage of his career.

Even without Pascal Siakam, their best shot at thwarting Sabonis, the Raptors succeeded in severely limiting his impact since their athleticism and tight-knit off-ball pressure bothered him so much that he was forced to only take a total of four field goal attempts, well behind his per-game average of 13.3 attempts.

His passing was also far from on-point. With Toronto presenting a unique challenge with their sheer length, passing out of double teams, which were automated as he received the rock in the post, was difficult. Not reading the defense ahead aggravated this and simply resulted in turnovers, such as this one:

I’m no coach, but Sabonis needs to move with more conviction. Whether it be in scoring or facilitating, his usually sharp awareness on offense needs to come back for the Pacers to have a chance at nabbing their second win of the season.

Domas has to act like he’s the best player on both teams. He must impose his will against Toronto and force them to shun their aggressive defense and take less risks. He’s more than good enough as a scorer and passer to attack more traditional coverages and compensate for the absence of three of their top scorers.

If the Indiana Pacers get their usual serving of All-Star level Domantas Sabonis against the Raptors, they should have a good chance at improving their 1-5 record. Otherwise, the hard trek will continue for the injury-riddled squad.

Next. 1 stud, 1 dud from the loss against Brooklyn. dark