In game one the Raptors star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan shot the ball poorly and the team lost. The assumption was that the Raptors would not be able to win a game in which both of their stars played below standard. While the pair did play better in game 2 both were still far below their usual production and yet the Raptors, thanks to some other moves and an improved overall defensive effort, were able to emerge with a 98-87 victory to even the series at one game a piece. The series will now shift to Indiana where a raucous crowd will be waiting to root on the Pacers.
Lowry did finish the game with 18 points however he shot 4-13 from the field. Derozan had 10 points on 5-18 from the field. DeMare Carroll got the start in an effort to have someone slow down Paul George and while h may not have shut him down he certainly set the tone on George and let him know he was going to have to work for his shots. The star of the game for the Raptors was Jonas Valanciunas who avoided the foul trouble he had in game one and dominated throughout with 23 points and 15 rebounds. The Pacers do not have a defender capable of matching his size and skill set. Expect them to have a different defensive strategy in game 3, likely something in which they double-team him when he touches the ball. Patrick Patterson continued his aggressive play and finished with 14 points including 2-2 from the three-point line and 6 rebounds. He is the consummate professional and does a lot of the “little things” that help teams win. Cory Joseph came off the bench and for the second straight game played a lot of minutes in the same backcourt with Lowry. He finished with 16 points and will likely continue to play heavy minutes.
George had 28 points and went 10-11 from the foul line so it is hard to place any blame on him, however he only took 15 shots on a night his team was struggling to score. As the star player he is going to need to carry them on his back and if that means being aggressive and not waiting for the game to come to him then that’s what he will need to do. His unselfishness only works to the team’s advantage when everyone has it going offensively. Monta Ellis had 15 points and 5 rebounds but had to work for every basket, he was unable to get anything going in transition. George and Ellis were the only Pacers in double figures as nobody could get going all night long.
Game three in Indiana will be very interesting. The Pacers home crowd is a loud one and it will come down to the Pacers finding ways to keep scoring the ball consistently. They will also need a defensive plan on Valanciunas that will limit his opportunities.
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