While the Raptors had another fantastic regular season there was little doubt going into game one that the best player on the court would be the Pacers Paul George. George was well on his was to superstardom until breaking his leg during a TEAM USA scrimmage 2 offseason ago forcing him to miss all but 6 games of last season. This season involved a period of time where he was still getting comfortable and it appears that after a season that was up and down by his standards he is ready to lead his team again. He was spectacular in the second half going 10-13 from the floor en route to 33 points and a convincing 100-90 Pacers win. Going into game one the Raptors had one decided advantage in the backcourt with Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry both coming off career seasons. If the backcourt continues to play like they did in game one then the Raptors will be headed home early this offseason. Lowry was 3-13 from the field while Derozan was 5-19. That pair combined for 1-10 from the 3 point line and 8-15 from the foul line. There will be lots of pressure on the pair to gets things right for game 2.
George was the catalyst and he had help from Monta Ellis who finished with 15 points and 5 assists, Myles Turner had 10 points, 5 rebounds, and a resounding 5 blocks and Solomon Hill had 13 points off the bench while going 10-10 from the free throw line. Turner is an impressive rookie who may end up in the starting lineup before the series is out. The team was +15 when he was on the court and his ability to play both inside and on the perimeter proved to be a difficult matchup for the Raptors front court. The Pacers showed great depth with 10 players logging at least 15 minutes and they were engaged on the defense end from the beginning.
While Toronto had a disappointing performance from their backcourt, their starting center Jonas Valanciunas has a dominant performance with 12 points and 19 rebounds including 11 on the offensive end. If not for foul trouble that limited him to 21 minutes he may have been able to influence the game more. Backup point guard Cory Joseph was impressive in his 24 minutes with 18 points and he spent a lot of time playing with Lowry in a 2 point guard backcourt.
Game 2 is obviously a big game for Toronto. They have lost home court advantage and need to take game 2 to draw even. The Pacers will certainly focus on their coverages on Valanciunas but they also better be prepared for a better performance from the Raptors backcourt who will certainly be looking for redemption. The Raptors will have to find a way to slow George down, don't be surprised to see Demare carol assigned to defend him more in game 2, however with his minutes restriction due to knee surgery he will only be able to do so much.
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