Game 3 Preview & Free NBA Playoff Pick On Raptors vs. Pacers

Jason Lake

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 8:01 PM GMT

Wednesday, Apr. 20, 2016 8:01 PM GMT

After re-establishing their dominance in Game 2, the Toronto Raptors are slim road favorites on the NBA odds board for Thursday's Game 3 versus the Indiana Pacers.

Jason's 2015-16 record as of April 19: 34-38-1 ATS, 6-3-1 Total
 

It was late in the third quarter of Game 2, and the Indiana Pacers had climbed back to within four points of the Toronto Raptors. Paul George was on fire again for Indiana. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan were still missing shots for Toronto. Surely this was going to be the latest collapse in the brief and sad postseason history of the Raptors franchise.

Not quite. Unlike in Game 1, where Toronto coughed up the lead and lost 100-90 as 7-point home favorites, the Raptors (–8 this time) weathered the storm, then pulled away in the fourth quarter to win 98-87. Now the Raps are 1.5-point road faves on the NBA odds board for Game 3 Thursday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBA-TV) at the Fieldhouse. That's up from –1 at the open. Should we stick with our original series pick, or is it time to ride the zigzag and take the Pacers?

 

Time for a Change
The zigzag theory is simple enough: Losing teams make necessary adjustments during the playoffs, but the marketplace doesn't. The Raptors adjusted in Game 2 by inserting defensive stopper DeMarre Carroll (11.9 PER, +0.2 BPM) into the starting lineup; Carroll wasn't at his best after picking up two quick fouls, but he did help contain George (20.9 PER, +4.6 BPM) during that third-quarter comeback attempt.

Meanwhile, although Lowry (22.1 PER, +6.8 BPM) was having another off-night at 4-of-13 from the floor, he did just about everything else right. He sank all 10 of his free-throw attempts to finish with 18 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. And Toronto's bench strength did indeed come to the fore in this matchup, as Patrick Patterson (10.6 PER, +1.0 BPM) and Norman Powell (13.3 PER, –0.4 BPM) each posted a plus-21 to lead all players.

 

Meeting of the Minds
Depth could be even more of a concern for the Pacers this Thursday. Starting center Ian Mahinmi (16.6 PER, +2.4 BPM) hurt his lower back during the first half of Game 2; he was able to return, but is considered questionable for Game 3. He'd better play, because Indiana doesn't have a lot to work with in the frontcourt, and Jonas Valanciunas (22.6 PER, +1.1 BPM) has absolutely torn them up in this series.

Terrence Ross (12.9 PER, –0.2 BPM) is also questionable for Toronto after bumping heads with DeRozan and going into concussion protocol. However, it appears he'll available for Thursday's game, and even if he isn't, the Raps are replete with wing players now that Carroll is back and Powell has emerged as a solid 3-and-D option. We're going to keep the Raptors in our NBA picks for Game 3, and as always, may the sphere be with you.

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Free NBA Pick: Raptors –1
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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