Those fears of the worst after Game 1 seem a long way away don't they? In Game 3 of the tied series, the Raptors took the lead early in the first quarter and never looked back, as they took this one 101-85. The Raptors are now up 2-1 in the series, with two home games to play for each team.
Right out of the gate, the Raptors looked to have figured out any jitters that plagued them in the early parts of the playoffs. Frank Vogel started with Monta Ellis playing DeMar DeRozan instead of Paul George. DeRozan got going early, tallying 12 points in the opening quarter, and getting to the free throw line six times. The Pacers seemed to really struggle at the rim early, shooting only 7-of-20 in the quarter and let the Raptors take a 24-17 lead at the end of one.
With the insertion of #LowryAndTheBenchMob in the second quarter, the Raptors immediately started dominating the game. The Pacers once again played with a perplexing all-bench lineup, which the Raptors predictably obliterated. Terrence Ross came in and hit a couple of shots, and Patrick Patterson played some terrific defence in the lanes to help the Raptors take a 53-36 lead at the break.
The third quarter was a source of frustration for some fans (me). Luis Scola inexplicably played eight straight minutes to start the half, as the Pacers chose to go big with Myles Turner and Ian Mahinmi in the front court. The Raptors probably would've been better served using a quick hook on Scola in lieu of Patterson, but that's a conversation for another time. The Pacers were able to find some semblance of a rhythm on offence and the Raptors really struggled offensively for that brief time period. DeRozan in particular, shot 1-of-7 in the quarter as Paul George was draped all over him once again. The Pacers managed to cut the lead to 12 to end the quarter but that's as close as they would get.
In the fourth, as soon as the bench unit came in, the Raptors stretched the lead out once again. Lowry's shot looked back to normal the first time all series, as he registered 12 points in the quarter, including a couple of threes. With the lead up to 16 with just over a minute left, Frank Vogel finally called off the hounds and conceded this one to the Raptors 101-85.
- DeMar DeRozan finally got going somewhat on offence, putting up 21 points on 7-19 shooting. He was still the lone starter who was a net minus on the night, and problems still remain when he tries to get his offence going against Paul George. Overall though, it's an improvement.
- Kyle Lowry finally found his shot. 21 points on 21 shots is unimpressive, but the 4-10 from three is not. This team finds a new dimension when Lowry's on point from distance. As usual though, his defence and energy were stellar all game, and he's become much more of a facilitator with his shot being unreliable -- eight more assists tonight.
- DeMarre Carroll was huge. Norman Powell was the odd man out in the rotation as Carroll had his minutes limit lifted tonight. Carroll played 35 minutes, and looked GOOD for most of them. 17 points, took on the duty of guarding PG, and hit three 3-pointers as well.
- The bench is terrific. Cory Joseph's timely scoring punch has been well timed with some of the starting lineup struggling, but it's the defensive effort he and Patrick Patterson put forth that really impresses me. As soon as they come in the game, the ball starts zipping around on offence and the defensive rotations are on the money.
- The Pacers can't stop Bismack Biyombo or Jonas Valanciunas. They had 22 rebounds between them and once again, looked dominant on the glass. The Raptor bigs are mixing it up on the block and had five personal fouls each, but that's the sort of aggressiveness that's worked in their favour all series.