Everyone knows the story behind the Toronto Raptors’ playoff woes. After game one on Saturday, the Raptors are now 0-7 in their last seven playoff games. They haven’t been able to claw their way out of the first round, and now they lost home court advantage. This game coming up is as important as a game can get.
Toronto was looking like a different team this season, and Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan looked like they made strides to become a great leading duo for this squad. However, like I’ve said time and time again on The Atlantic Files, both Lowry and DeRozan disappear come playoff time. DeRozan is one of those players who depends a lot on foul calls and getting to the free throw line. Opposing teams have normally been able to figure out how to avoid fouling those types of players when given the time to scout and face them in a seven-game series. Look at the teams who have beaten James Harden in the playoffs, another player who depends on getting to the free throw line also hasn’t produced enough without it. If the Raptors want to win this game and eventually the series, both Lowry and DeRozan have to depend on their teammates and their own skills rather than the ref’s whistle. On top of that, they’ll have to throw a committee at Paul George to slow him down, and Casey has decided to start DeMarre Carroll to try to do just that.
Brighter spots for the Raptors came off of the bench in the form of Cory Joseph and Patrick Patterson, which wasn’t surprising at all. Joseph ended up being the leading scorer and Patterson was the only player with a positive +/-.
On the other hand, the Indiana Pacers played like a poised, veteran team in the second half of game one. Paul George looked like he was back to his form from the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat. He made every defender look helpless and he put the clamps on DeRozan at the other end. George Hill was also playing an outstanding defensive game on Kyle Lowry. One of the brightest spots during the game was Myles Turner’s debut. He blocked shots, played with an immense amount of energy, and gave the Pacers some big hustle plays when Jonas Valanciunas was dominating the boards. If Turner can just keep plugging away and being a pest, and the Pacers backcourt can continue to play a high level of defense, this series could be over quicker than most people thought.
Prediction: The Raptors squeak one out at the end to regain some confidence – 99-96 Toronto.