The beautiful sun shined upon Jurassic Park as the Toronto Raptors opened up yet another post-season at home against the seventh seeded Indiana Pacers. Unfortunately the tears of joy quickly turned to pain as the Raptors dropped a seventh consecutive Playoff game, 100-90. Paul George had 33 points after averaging just 16 points a game against the Raptors during the regular season and the offence sputtered as the all-star backcourt duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan failed to win on the big stage once again. However, the series is more than just one game. So Raptors fans must look deep within their souls to find some hope if Toronto is to break this ridiculous playoff curse. Let’s take a look at some of the things that Raptors need to improve upon going forward in this series.
Post Game Report Card:
Boy what an ugly game it was. The Raptors could not get anything going offensively; it wasn’t until the
defence began to falter that we were able to realize it. The Raptors shot just 38% from the field, but the surprise was at the free-throw line where they missed 12. They also committed 19 turnovers, which was the one thing coach Dwane Casey did not want to see happen (other than the loss of course). For a large part of the game the lack of offence was not concerning, but you can only get so far before the other team catches fire.
If the Raptors are to get back in this series, they will do it on the backs of their star players. As Casey said, the Raptors “live and die by Kyle and DeMar”. Today they combined for just 25 points, something that cannot be repeated if they hope to have a shot. Another thing we need to see is better play by Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross. As 2 key members of the core these two guys need to supplement the duo and shoot better than the combined 6 of 22 they were from field today.
Paul George steal and slam! https://t.co/dHPBdXDvJH
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) April 16, 2016
Oh how the tables had turned. The Raptors held the Pacers to just 43 points in the first-half and did a good job on George who had 6 of those points. However, this team has made two Eastern Conference Finals appearances on the back of PG13 – rightfully so as he then poured in 27 points in the second-half. Most of his shots were contested, and aside from a couple of open threes the Raptors focus on George was good. It became too much focus as the doubles put on George late in the game led to some open looks on the inside for rookie Myles Turner that really put the Raptors away. Combine that with Solomon Hill, who was a perfect 10 of 10 from the free-throw line and the Pacers put together a second-half game plan that the Raptors could not stop.
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) April 16, 2016
This was clearly the Raptors best area on the floor today as they outrebounded Indiana 52-38, with 20 offensive boards. Valanciunas set another franchise playoff record with 19 rebounds himself. However, as the game winded down the Raptors overload on defense became problematic as the Pacers ended up with easy opportunities to get on the offensive glass and stop any kind of momentum for Toronto. The Raptors can probably win the rebounding battle in this series as they have a pretty big advantage in the front-court match-ups. It’s the other areas that they need to improve in order to avoid becoming just the second 7th seed to be eliminated in the first round in the past 25 years.
Game Ball: Paul George
Despite shattering his leg PG13 is still the same guy who nearly knocked off the Miami Heat super team just a few seasons ago. Although for most of the season the Raptors were his toughest opponent. As many of us experienced last year; this game isn’t won on paper. The match-up against DeRozan was always going to be a concern given that George is longer and can score in a multitude of ways. DeMar kept him in check in the first-half, but it was the second half where he really turned it on.
He is the X, Y and Z factor for Indiana. Stopping him without leaving other guys open will be critical for the Raptors if they want to win this series.
All stats in this article are from tsn.ca