While the Toronto Raptors’ playoff position is all but sealed, the Indiana Pacers are on the verge of punching their own ticket. The Pacers can clinch a spot in the postseason with a victory Friday at the Raptors, who are a loss or a Cleveland win away from securing the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The matchup could be a preview of a first-round series, as Indiana enters Friday in seventh place in the East – a half-game up on Detroit – with four games to play. The Pacers have won three in a row after a 123-109 win over the Cavaliers at home on Wednesday, when they shot 16-of-31 from 3-point distance. Paul George hit four of those triples and finished with 29 points, his seventh straight contest with at least 20. Toronto, which dropped a 95-87 decision in Atlanta on Thursday, is just 4-5 in its last nine games and has scored fewer than 100 in four consecutive affairs for the first time since December.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Indiana, Sportsnet One (Toronto)
LINE HISTORY: The Raptors are expected to rest players in the second part of a back-to-back and have opened as 4.5-point home faves. They have since been bet to -5. The total opened at 194.5.
Pacers – PG T. Lawson (Questionable Friday, infection).
Raptors – No injuries to report.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Pacers (-4.7) – Raptors (-7.1) + home court (-3) = Raptors -5.4
ABOUT THE PACERS (42-36, 38-39-1 ATS, 35-43 O/U): Indiana took advantage of the LeBron James-less Cavaliers squad to match their longest winning streak since a six-gamer early in the season. The three-game run has coincided with the insertion of Lavoy Allen into the starting lineup in place of rookie Myles Turner, although Allen has provided a total of just nine points and six rebounds in the winning streak. Reserve Solomon Hill has earned more playing time of late and responded against Cleveland with season highs in points (15), 3-pointers (three) and steals (three).
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (52-26, 42-36 ATS, 40-37-1 O/U): Although it has hit a rut offensively, Toronto has to be pleased with the successful return to action of forward DeMarre Carroll, who ended a 41-game absence with a solid 14-minute effort Thursday night. He recorded five points – making his only 3-point try – and four steals, showcasing some of the defensive grit that could be huge once the playoffs begin. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, who each had 28 points in the previous meeting with the Pacers, scored 16 apiece versus Atlanta as the Raptors shot 38.1 percent.
DANCE TEAM BATTLE:
* Pacers are 7-21 ATS in the last 28 meetings in Toronto.
* Raptors are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games playing on 0 days rest.
* Under is 6-1 in Pacers last 7 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
* Under is 4-1 in Raptors last 5 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The early betting public is taking the Raptors as a rare home dog with 74 percent of wagers on Toronto. As for the total, 61 percent of wagers are on the over 194.5.