Tonight the Toronto Raptors will look to steal a game on the road as they visit the Indiana Pacers in game 3 of their playoff match up. The series, thus far, is tied 1 a piece and while the Raps dropped game 1, they rallied back to win game 2 behind Jonas Valanciunas.
The postseason is here and after dropping game 1, Raptors fans had terrible feelings of deja vu from the past 2 postseason trips. However, I believe there’s no reason to fret and panic with this team. They’re a tough, gritty and physical roster that is hungry for a deep playoff run. One man that’s going to have to make some adjustments is DeMar DeRozan. He shot a total of 10 for 37 over the first two games and we will need his scoring if the team is to make this series any less difficult than it already is. The tricky part of that will be overcoming Indiana’s tough defense. Kyle Lowry also struggled the first game but bounced back the second, posting 18 points, 7 boards, 9 assists and a steal. Toronto will surely need the All Star production from Lowry and DeRozan in order to steal a W in Indy. Let’s take a look at Cage’s keys to the game.
The young Lithuanian has been nothing short of miraculous for the Toronto Raptors this series. No one ever saw the dip DeMar would take in his game. But someone needed to step up in lieu of DeRozan’s disappearing act. That someone was the big man, Jonas Valanciunas. Throughout the first 2 games, JV is dominating the stat line with 17.5 points, 17 boards, and 1.5 blocks in only 26 minutes. JV has no ceiling in regards to his potential and this series is a perfect way for him to showcase what he’s capable. Oh and I forgot. He’s only 23.years old.
Come Back DeMar
It’s no secret that DeMar DeRozan is having a difficult time finding his offensive rhythm. As mentioned before, DD is shooting an abysmal 10 for 37 throughout the series thus far. He needs to stop forcing up shots that he knows are not there. The Pacers’ defense has completely stifled him and it’s put the team in an unfavourable situation. If we are going to win this game DeRozan needs to find ways to contribute on the offensive end whether it’s scoring or facilitating.
Shut Down Paul George
This one is hard to do as PG is a superstar. However, after him and Monta Ellis, the Pacers don’t have much to combat the Raptors. Toronto is much deeper than Indiana and that could make the difference in this series. With players like Cory Joseph, Norman Powell, Bismack Biyombo and Patrick Patterson proving to be key contributors, the Raptors are able to seek help from the bench if one of our primary scorers starts slumping. The Indiana Pacers don’t have that same luxury. Therefore, if Toronto is to shut down Paul George on the offensive end, the Pacers will be in trouble.
X-Factor: Jonas Valanciunas
I’m going to make Jonas the X-Factor because he has been absolutely abusing the Pacers. While they have taken DeMar off his game, Indiana has had no answer for JV in the paint. Jonas is light years ahead of any of the big men Indiana boasts and even though our star guards will need to bring their A-game, JV’s has been a man among boys and it couldn’t come at a better time for the Toronto Raptors.