Matt Tierney - Raptors.com
After a solid performance start to finish in Game 3, the Raptors enter Saturday's matchup looking to take a 3-1 series lead back to Toronto. Following the Game 1 loss at Air Canada Centre, the Raps have rebounded to win two straight and regain the coveted home-court advantage. It's expected to once again be all hands on deck after Terrence Ross returned to the lineup Thursday. Fans should note the early 3pm start time with Maple Leaf Square once again showing the game on the big screen, as well as select Cineplex theatres in the GTA.
Tip-off - 3PMBroadcast info: SN | TSN1050 RADIO | NBA on TNTFord Fanzone open: 1PMPregame Show: 1:30PM on NBA TV Canada
Return Of The Junkyard Dog – Even though he returned to the starting lineup in Game 2, we saw the real DeMarre Carroll in the Raptors road win in Indiana on Thursday night.
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.
“Coach told me he was going to lift my minutes restriction so it kind of helped me with relief a little bit mentally,” said Carroll postgame.
Casey was true to his word, playing Carroll 35 minutes, just one less than DeMar DeRozan. The first-year Raptor responded by scoring 17 points and adding five rebounds. But his defence on Paul George was arguably his biggest contribution. Overall Carroll was just happy to be back on the court without restrictions.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve played that long but it felt great and I just have to build off that."
Defensive Mindset - “I like the activity, our intensity and our approach. I think it just set the tone for the entire game.”
Casey described his team’s defensive effort in Game 3 after the Raptors held Indiana to just 38% from two and 27% from behind the arc.
Removing field-goal attempts by George, the Raptors limited the Pacers starters to just 27 points on 9/23 shooting. But they'll need to stay out of foul trouble after putting the Pacers on the free-throw line 33 times.
“We had some silly fouls I thought. We have to get away from touch fouls. That really put them in the penalty early,” said Casey.
GAME 3 TALKING POINTS
1) Will Indy Switch It Up? - “We’ll consider everything. I don’t know what our lineup will look like next game. We’ll watch tape and evaluate."
That was Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel following their Game 3 loss at home to TO.
After dropping two-straight, questions were asked as to if and when Vogel will look to make changes to his rotations and specifically if he would consider starting rookie forward Myles Turner.
Jonas Valanciunas and the Raptors big men have exploited the Pacers banged-up frontcourt, but Turner has been a bright spot. The rookie finished Thursday’s game with 17 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
It remains to be seen if Vogel will stick with the same lineup that he used in the first three games or if he's willing to look to Turner to light a spark in his team.
2) Unsung Hero - Let the strong play of Raptors forward Patrick Patterson continue.
Despite finishing just 2-7 in Game 3, he's shooting 61% from the floor in the series.
Not considered in the NBA 6th man voting, many understand how important he is to the team, Coach Casey being one of them.
“He’s one of our smartest players. He knows situations before they happen.”
Very capable of starting, Patterson has accepted his role off the bench and still finished third on the team in minutes played in the regular season.
He logged another 26 valuable minutes Thursday night, something Casey admitted is hard to put a cap on.
“It’s hard to get him off the floor."
3) Carroll Vs. George - George may have gotten the better of Carroll in Game 2, forcing the Raptors forward to the bench early with two quick fouls, but the Junkyard Dog repaid the favour in Game 3, with playoff-level defence and finishing with 17 points on the offensive end.
"I knew at some point I was going to see that DeMarre that's going to be the chippy DeMarre. But a lot of my shots, he was getting away with hitting the elbow hitting the wrist, making it tough for me to follow through and see the ball go down,” said George after Game 3.
George still managed to score a team-high 25 points, but was held to just 6-19 from the floor thanks in large part to Carroll’s physical defensive presence.
Both players go way back and there seems to be nothing but respect between them, but this duel will continue to be something to watch as the series rolls on.