The Toronto Raptors eventually managed to hold off the resilient never say die Indiana Pacers and advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
Like the series the roster had it share of individual ups and downs. Each rating is out of 10 based on the first round series as a whole and what the expectation was of each player coming into the series.
DeMar DeRozan- 5.5/10
DeRozan gets a pass mark for two reasons, firstly the Raptors won the series and secondly his 34 point game 5 performance was a vital part of the victory. However in all honesty the team needed a lot more from its star. His 30 point game 7 performance is overshadowed by his 10-32 field goal shooting and an even worse 1-5 from range. In the three lost games he averaged just 10 points and at times seemed either non-existent or detrimental. He did however come through in some key moments, including when he drew a critical offensive foul in game 7 against Pacers star Paul George, when he drained two pivotal free throws to seal the win and when he managed to get a clutch rebound on the Pacers series deciding second last possession. Toronto will need more from DeRozan against Miami.
Kyle Lowry- 6.5/10
Like DeRozan, Kyle Lowry had an up and down series. In game 7 he managed just 11 points and made 0 of his 4 three point attempts. During the regular season he averaged around 21 points per game but for the Pacers series it went down to 14. He also experienced large drops in FG% and 3PT% where his regular season averages of .427 and .388 fell to .310 (FG) and .179 respectively. For some perspective, Lowry’s regular season 3 point percentage is higher than his post season field goal percentage. Lowry managed 7.3 assists per game however, and has contributed in other facets of the game. Like DeRozan he also had a role in key plays. Against the Heat the Raptors cannot afford to have him go missing but in the end winning cures all.
Jonas Valanciunas- 8/10
In game 2 when the Raptors’ backs were against the wall big Jonas Valanciunas proved just how important he was when his 23 points on 10-18 shooting led the Raptors to victory. At times he was unstoppable as Indiana struggled to find an answer to this 7’0″ problem. As it did in the regular season his rebounding proved critical as he averaged 11.3 for the series which is a slight lift from his 9.1 for the season. It is also worth remembering that despite playoff and big game experience (with the Lithuanian national team) Valanciunas is still very young and for him to step up the way he did shows great progress and maturity. He could have done more in game 7 especially during the Pacers late come back but overall the big man proved himself. He will have a tougher time when he comes up against the taller and more athletic Miami Heat he was certainly a bright light against Indiana.
DeMarre Carroll- 7/10
DeMarre Carroll offensively had a seemingly average series – nothing special but certainly nothing poor. He averaged 9.5 points per game which is just less than the regular season which saw him average 11.9. He managed 17 points in the game 3 victory and 15 in the game 6 loss. On defence he proved his prowess, locking down Paul George at times. He guarded 10.6 shots per game, and opponents shot 36.5% on those shots – some elite numbers. Against Miami he no matter who he comes up against they should be less challenging than George.
Patrick Patterson- 7.5/10
Patterson is a role player that was really required to make an impact this series and thankfully he did. The Power Forward position has often been seen as a bit of a hole on the Raptors roster but Patterson filled it well, whether he was required to come off the bench or inserted into the starting lineup. He managed double figures in scoring in game 2 and 7 (both wins) and also continued to be a threat from deep. In game 5 he struggled when he finished with a -20 impact but overall was a really important player in the series.
Corey Joseph- 9.5/10
Local boy Cory Jo had a great series. He may have been aided by his time with the Spurs as he always seemed calm and in control in a situation where a lot of young players find difficulty. In all but game 4 he managed to shoot over .500 and he finished the series averaging an incredible .556 from 3. He played a big part in basically every game Toronto can be very proud of the performance by Cory Joseph who helped lift his city to its first 7 game series win.
Bismack Biyombo- 8/10
His rebounding proved critical in this series and that is highlighted by his game high 16 boards in the game 5 win. All season long he has been a great back up to Jonas Valanciunas and the playoffs were no different. He averaged 9.2 rebounds for the series and pulled down some critical ones in game 7 where he grabbed 11 overall. He will be required to play another important role in the upcoming Miami series.
Terrence Ross- 3/10
Terrence Ross experienced drops in every statistical category for this series. Points went down from 9.9 in the regular season to 5.8. Rebounds fell from 2.5 a game to 1.7. Minutes went from 23 to 13.3, which included just 5 in the pivotal game 7. Even assists fell from 0.8 to 0.5. While other reserves really stepped up Terrence Ross just seemed to chug along at an average pace. It did not have a great impact on the result of the series but considering his contract Raptor fans are right to expect more. He could be a really important player in the next series and certainly has the potential to be better. In this instance if this were a school report card, T-Ross would be the kid that could do well but rarely shows up to class. A better Miami series would ease the doubters.
Norman Powell- 10/10
Perhaps the hero Toronto deserves and certainly the one it needed, like many of the reserves the second round rookie proved to be big time. Fans can point to a number of key moments. His huge dunk in game 5 that seemed to swing the momentum, and his pivotal 13 points in game 7 where he went 5-6 from the field and 3-4 from beyond the arc certainly stand out. Powell had a great series and another one like it against Miami would prove vital. Thank You Norman Powell.
An honourable mention should also go to Paul George. He played a great series and in the end almost lifted the 7th seeded Pacers to what would have been a gut wrenching upset victory. George showed great poise in his ability to get big points and went on to make 32 straight free throws. He was the star of the series and deserves a lot of credit – if he was not playing for the opposition it would have been a joy to watch.
The Raptors made it through a very tough series and for the first time since 2001 are headed to the second round. History was made by this team and hopefully there is more to come.