Views from the 6. Game 6. This could end up being a legendary day for the city.
— Raptors Cage (@RaptorsCage) April 29, 2016
Fresh off an incredible comeback victory, the Toronto Raptors will look to close out the series against the Indiana Pacers tonight. To be quite frank, the Raptors have not played well this series at all. Perhaps the storming comeback the Raps engineered will be what they need to get back on track. Still, up 3-2 heading into game 6 – you have to like the Raptors’ odds. Then again, we can look back to the Brooklyn series…
The bottom line is that a game 7 can’t happen. The boys need to get it done tonight, and here’s how they can.
Cage’s Keys to the Game
It took the Raptors 7 quarters of getting beaten down before they just said, ‘screw it, let’s go’. Indiana is going to come out swinging tonight much like game 4, as they are literally fighting for their season. The Raps simply cannot be late to the punch – they need to play as if this was game 7. If the offense continues to falter, you have to beat them by outworking them – get those rebounds, force turnovers, and lock them down.
Limit perimeter shots
The Pacers have demoralized the Raptors defense by hitting three point shots. You can live with Paul George eating you up inside, but what really makes the Pacers offense tick is those threes. Guys like George Hill, Solomon Hill, and CJ Miles make a living from deep. You take away the Pacers three ball and their offense suddenly becomes very limited.
Slowing down Paul George
This is pretty obvious, but Paul George has been, by far, the best player in this series. Last game, when he took a breather, the Raptors went on their late game run. This time around, you can bet Indy won’t make that mistake. So, it will be up to DeMarre Carroll and Norman Powell to make his life difficult. It will also certainly help if DeMar DeRozan makes him work defensively once again. The tricky thing is that George demands such attention, so the Raptors will really have to adjust based on the flow of the game. And yes, after the 4th quarter of last game, I have some confidence that Dwane Casey can actually adjust.
Get Kyle Lowry going
The good news here is that the Raptors have won 3 games without seeing Kyle Lowry really have a good offensive outing. He’s certainly made an impact on both ends in other ways, but you have to hope his shooting gets going at some point. DeRozan had a great outing last game, which is certainly a positive sighting – get both of them going, and this one won’t be close. Maybe tonight’s the night the Raptors break through in a big way, and carry the momentum forward, to dare I say, round 2.
X-Factor: Jonas Valanciunas
After being the Raptors’ best player to start the series, Valanciunas has looked disengaged in games 4 and 5. He still has a huge advantage over the Pacers’ frontcourt, and it might be time to try exploiting that once again.