Game 3 Preview: Raptors vs. Pacers

Matt Tierney - Raptors.com

We are all square as the series shifts to Indiana following a gritty 98-87 victory for the Raptors Monday night at Air Canada Centre. Toronto snapped a seven-game playoff losing streak in the process and were led once again by the strong play of Jonas Valanciunas and the second unit. Terrence Ross left midway through Game 2 and did not return for precautionary reasons after undergoing concussion protocol. His status remains undetermined for tonight’s matchup. We are all set for a 7:30pm start time on TSN at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Reminder: Maple Leaf Square will be showing both road games with gates opening tonight at 5:30pm.

Tip-off - 7:30PMBroadcast info: TSN | TSN1050 RADIO | NBATVFord Fanzone open: 5:30PMPregame Show: 6PM on NBA TV Canada


Rockstar Reserves – Once again Toronto’s second unit came up big and were a large reason that the Raps managed to even this series up at one apiece. The usual suspects were Patrick Patterson and Cory Joseph who combined to score 30 of the bench’s 45 points and are now shooting a sparkling 80% from the field (20/25) over the first two games. Bismack Biyombo was a force defensively and despite his modest line of six points and four rebounds, he still made key plays down the stretch, including connecting on four of his five free-throw attempts.

Lowry Getting It Done - Along with his backcourt teammate DeRozan, Kyle Lowry hasn’t had the start to the playoffs that he may have envisioned following his All-Star regular season. Despite only shooting 4/13 from the floor, the Raps point guard still managed to put up a near triple-double finishing the game with 18 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Coach Casey made a point after the game of emphasizing his point guard’s ability to find other ways to help his team. "His numbers didn’t say how hard he played. I thought he left it out on the floor; diving on the floor, loose balls, rebounding, he got to the free throw line 10 times."


1) Gameplanning For JV - "He’s been huge – literally. We’re doing a good job on Kyle and DeMar, but Valanciunas has stepped up. He’s the one that’s causing us problems right now and we have to figure it out.”

These were the words of Paul George after another sound performance Monday night by Valanciunas. JV managed to stay out of foul trouble in Game 2 allowing him to continue to find success against Indiana’s frontcourt, to the tune of 23 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks.

“Im pretty sure they’re going to be worried about JV next game,” said DeMar DeRozan at Tuesday’s practice in TO.

Right now it seems that Valanciunas can do what he wants in this series and Casey was even asked when he expects his seven-foot centre to start shooting threes. “Let’s start at 15ft first without a pump fake,” said Casey with a laugh.

JV was once again the hot topic at yesterday’s practice and his frontcourt teammate, Patterson, talked about witnessing the progression in his game and how Valanciunas has seized this opportunity. “I think in the playoffs his moment has come and he’s starting to shine."

2) Road Warriors - One of the major improvements this 2015-16 season has been Toronto’s road form. So much so that they finished the year with the third-best road record in the league at (24-17) behind only Golden State and San Antonio. Given the Pacers Game 1 victory, the Raptors will now have to win at least one game in Indiana. Toronto can look toward the fact they won the season series three games to one, splitting their two matchups at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Asked yesterday what the team should expect tonight in Indiana, Patterson responded, “Crazy. Loud. Screaming. Taunting.”

3) DeRozan will be alright - Indiana has made life difficult for the Raptors shooting guard so far this series. Entering tonight’s game, DeRozan is averaging 12 points, three rebounds and three assists and is shooting 10/37. This is about half of what he averaged on the season and despite his struggles, he continues to remain optimistic.

“You’ve got to be able to take the good from the bad. I’ve had a great season, I just had two rough shooting nights,” said DeRozan at Tuesday’s practice. The players were asked if they were concerned about their teammate and the consensus was that it's a non-issue. “DeMar’s only played 13 playoff games. He’ll adjust. He’ll be ok,” said Coach Casey.

“In terms of his offence, we’re not worried about that at all,” added Joseph.