Undermanned Pacers scrap out win over Raptors on Pasccal Siakam tribute night

The Indiana Pacers took down the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night as Pascal Siakam got a tribute from his former organization.

Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, Tyrese Haliburton, Pascal Siakam
Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, Tyrese Haliburton, Pascal Siakam / Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Good news for Pacers fans: The Indiana Pacers are back in the win column, and they did it in perhaps the most thrilling way. Coming into Wednesday's matchup against the Toronto Raptors, Indiana was in desperate need of a win and some momentum to swing their way after one of the worst losses of the season two nights earlier to the Charlotte Hornets.

Unfortunately, luck was not on Indiana's side to start off the game, as they not only missed Bennedict Mathurin but also their two top rotation centers, Myles Turner and Jalen Smith, leading to Isaiah Jackson getting only his third start of the season and only the 30th of his career.

It was a rough start to the night, but things lightened up somewhat when the Pascal Siakam tributes started at Scotiabank Arena. The Raptors certainly came prepared on this special night, making a tribute video documenting Siakam's entire Raptors career and his come-up in the NBA, which was received very well by the man himself.

This was not the only tribute Toronto did, as almost everyone in Section 119 of the Scotiabank arena donned the iconic 43 Toronto Siakam jersey in a massive show of respect for the longtime Raptor, which he also very much appreciated.

On to the game, In the first half, Indiana placed with the same lack of urgency they played with against Charlotte and it looked to be another awful loss at first. While Indiana shot a decent 46% from the field and 41% from three, the Raptors one-upped them, shooting 57% from the field and almost 42% from three.

Once again, Indiana's offense was not their biggest problem, or at least not as big a problem as their defense. At times, Indiana looked hopeless on the defensive end, as they completely ignored Jakob Poeltl on one possession, giving no resistance or even batting a look his way as he easily streaked to the rim for a layup.

Perhaps this abomination of a possession woke something up in Indiana, as they defended much better in the second half, holding the Raptors to only 44% from the field and a putrid 7% from beyond the arc.

Unfortunately, this play was mostly without one of Indiana's best defenders, as Aaron Nesmith came down awkwardly on a layup attempt less than a minute into the half, which turned into a scary sight as he grabbed his left shin area grimacing in pain and had to be helped off the court, thankfully walking out of the arena on his own strength.

Regardless of injuries, the game went on. Indiana slowly strung some momentum together, led by the 'hometown' hero. Despite only scoring 8 points on 2/9 shooting in the first half and looking a bit shellshocked, Pascal Siakam picked up his play enough to the tune of 15 points on 6/8 shooting in the second half and seven points in the 4th quarter, the most of any Pacer in the said quarter.

Siakam showed off his clutch gene even more by sinking a baseline layup to put Indiana up three points with 25 seconds left, a lead they would thankfully not relinquish despite a monumental scare at the end of the game.

Despite Siakam's clutch antics, the hero of the game would end up being rookie Ben Sheppard. On a night where he played the fourth-most minutes of the game with almost 21,

Sheppard showed why he deserves to be on an NBA roster, scoring a career-high 10 points on 2/4 from beyond the arc and securing the game-saving stop on the last possession, hounding RJ Barrett from the inbound to force him into a tough fadeaway and ultimately give Indiana the win.

For a game starting off on awful defense, it's quite poetic that a perfect defensive possession and stop secured the win for the Pacers.

After the game, everyone was excited. A relieved Quinn Buckner let out a scream of excitement, Tyrese Haliburton threw his hands up in victory, and Pascal Siakam, shortly after embracing his former teammates, took plenty of time to praise Sheppard, even doing his signature pose.

Indeed, this is much more than a close win against one of the worst teams in the league. Indiana, a team that dipped into play-in talks after the recent Charlotte loss, is now back in the playoff seeding, currently holding the 6th seed in the East as the All-Star break starts.

This break now gives Indiana a much-needed eight days of rest before their next showdown against Detroit, which gives players like Bennedict Mathurin and Jalen Smith plenty of time to recover, and Aaron Nesmith time to rehab his injury, which is currently diagnosed as left shin splits, which will hopefully not keep him sidelined too long, if at all.

Despite these setbacks, Indiana heads into the All-Star Break on a high note, as the Pacers will be heavily featured in the All-Star festivities, with Tyrese Haliburton alone participating in three events. For the Pacers to exit the official first half of the season on a high note with a resounding win is huge for their momentum.

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Hitting a rough patch recently, with Haliburton only recently coming off his minutes restriction, Indiana needed all the momentum they needed, and this win will go a long way in restoring the confidence and abilities of some players. Operation Revenge Game for Pascal Siakam: Complete.