Here’s 10 takeaways from the Toronto Raptors’ 98-93 victory over the Orlando Magic in Game 3.
One - Makeshift: This was a nip and tuck affair for the Raptors. The Magic (and, quite honestly, the officiating) never allowed the game to have any semblance of flow, and so the Raptors could never assert any semblance of control. And even when they did run the advantage to 11 and later 17 points, the Magic came right back and threatened to pull off the upset.
Two - Hustle: Game 3 was ultimately decided in the margins. The Raptors made fewer mistakes and so they won. Kyle Lowry iced the result by beating out three Magic defenders for a vital offensive rebound that sealed the victory. Orlando also committed 16 turnovers to 13 for Toronto, and those extra possessions made the difference in a one-possession game.
BIG TIME PLAYERS, MAKE BIG TIME PLAYS pic.twitter.com/Ai6Feehzod— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 20, 2019
Three - Weathered: Kawhi Leonard followed up his 37-point explosion by shooting 5-of-19 from the field with six turnovers. He stubbornly charged into extra bodies in the lane, didn’t have his usual lift on the jumper, and still he insisted on monopolizing the ball down the stretch despite being ice-cold. Nick Nurse explained after the game that Leonard has been under the weather, and that he hasn’t practised over the last two days, which would explain the poor performance. The silver lining is that Leonard still chipped in with 10 rebounds, which spoke to his determination to impact the game on an otherwise miserable night.
Four - Heroic: As was the case in the regular season, Pascal Siakam stepped up in Leonard’s absence. Siakam led all scorers with 30 points, shot 13-of-20 from the field, and consistently answered Orlando’s runs with clutch baskets. Siakam logged 42 minutes tonight, and that arguably wasn’t enough. Siakam carried the team in the third quarter, and he delivered a clutch layup late in the fourth to stop the Magic’s comeback in its tracks.
Five - Inconsistent: Tony Brothers is statistically one of the most whistle-happy officials in the league, but that only went one way tonight. The Magic were allowed to get away with just about anything under the rim, whereas the Raptors’ key veterans were sent to the bench with ticky-tack fouls. The final result saw the Magic take 23 free-throws to 10 for the Raptors (and the final two were intentional), and Orlando also held a 23-17 edge in fouls.
Six - Muzzled: Marc Gasol was effectively neutralized in the second half due to foul trouble. Gasol dominated Nikola Vucevic in the first half (Vucevic only had four points and they all came against Serge Ibaka) but two quick fouls sent Gasol to the bench with over nine minutes left in the third. Siakam and Danny Green were able to make just enough plays to keep the Raptors afloat, but Vucevic immediately got rolling with Gasol on the bench and finished with 22 points.
Seven - Pummelled: Expect the Magic to tweak their rotation to get Vucevic more burn against Ibaka moving forward. Gasol is a good matchup for Vucevic because he matches him for size in the post, has quick hands, and makes great reads on defense, whereas Ibaka does none any of that. Steve Clifford generally likes to stick to a consistent rotation, but his adjustment in Game 3 was to extend Vucevic’s run in the first quarter until Ibaka checked in, but that might not be enough. He should sub Vucevic out earlier in the first, and bring him back with the bench in the second so he can go to work on Ibaka.
Not enough Os in VOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOCH for this one. pic.twitter.com/PTViw6a3RI— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) April 20, 2019
Eight - Heat check: Another potential adjustment for the Magic would be to attack Gasol with Terrence Ross. Gasol isn’t afraid to play on the perimeter, but his instinct is to protect the paint. Ross had plenty of daylight for the pull-up jumper when he worked around dribble hand-offs from Vucevic late in the fourth, and Clifford should tweak his rotation to try that play earlier in the game.
Nine - Steady: Danny Green was the unsung hero from tonight’s game. He nailed two corner threes and cut backdoor for a layup in the third to help the Raptors establish a 17-point lead. He was also on the floor for a dominant stretch in third where Toronto held Orlando without a field goal for a six-minute stretch.
Ten - Outmatched: Fred VanVleet continues to struggle in this series, and it’s hurting the bench as a whole. One nagging concern - VanVleet insists on calling his own number when the defense switches between point guard and center instead of working the mismatch through the post. And to make matters worse, VanVleet is the only initiator with the bench - even when he shares the floor with Lowry - but he’s only accumulated eight assists in 72 minutes in the series.
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