Coming into the season, plenty of people had the Raptors emerging as one of the top teams in the East due to the addition of DeMarre Carroll. Many of those same people had the Pacers missing the playoffs yet again. Well the Raptors did indeed come through as one of the top teams, settling into the two seed (and contending for #1), but the Pacers shocked many by having a solid season throughout. In fact, it’s surprising that they dropped as far as the seven seed with how well they played for a good chunk of the season.
The Pacers match up against the Raptors at the right time. Carroll missed the majority of the season due to injury, and while he’s back now, he’s certainly not 100% into the flow of the game. With Paul George being definitively the best player on the Pacers, and arguably the best player in this series, Carroll will be called on to try to shut him down. That isn’t an easy task even for a guy who is at the top of his game. The matchup between George on offense and Carroll on defense is certainly one of the more exciting things to watch for this series.
But in the end, it’s likely to come down to the duo that’s arguably the best backcourt in the league (yes, we’re still talking about that.) Lowry had another incredible season this year, and DeRozan can basically score at will these days. Look for both of them to spend ample time at the free throw line and put the pressure onto the Pacers backcourt.
Keys to the Series
- Don’t let Monta Ellis try to do too much. In fact, maybe he should be on the bench if they get down. Yes, he can be a high-volume scorer, but he shot 42% during the season. If the game gets on the line, you want the ball in Paul George’s hands. Unfortunately, those are the times when teams have historically gone to Ellis.
- Shut them down from three. During the season, opponents only shot 33% from beyond the arc against Indiana, but Toronto has an array of players who can space the floor.
- Come out strong. In franchise history the Raptors have only won the first game of a series once. In case you aren’t familiar, when you lose the first game, you’re down in the series. Not a great way to start things off if you’re trying to win in the least games possible. The home crowd in Toronto will be going crazy, reward them with a win.
- Own the frontcourt. Paul George is going to get his points, and the same can be said for Monta Ellis and George Hill. Where the difference can be made is if Bismack Biyombo,
Jonas Valanciunas, Luis Scola, and Patrick Patterson can outplay Ian Mahinmi, Turner, and Jordan Hill.
The depth of the Raptors frontcourt is formidable. Even though there aren’t any legitimate superstars present, Biyombo has stepped in and made the defense a force to be reckoned with. Turner has been streaky throughout the season, turning in some stretches where he looked like an All-Rookie first-teamer, and a few other stretches where he was a complete non-factor. He’s going to have to be dominant on the boards and score a bit too if the Pacers want any chance of surviving this series.
Raptors in 6
While the Pacers should put up a very good fight, they just don’t have the skill in the frontcourt or the depth in the backcourt to compete with a Raptors team that’s one of the best Toronto has ever run out. It won’t be an easy series for the Raps, but they’ll pull it out.