Another playoff series and another early deficit for the Toronto Raptors.
Riding the highs of their first post-season series victory since 2001, the Raptors fell to the Miami Heat in dramatic fashion on Tuesday night to kick off their second-round set. Toronto has still only won one Game 1 in franchise history.
So now there's some serious work to do. Another loss on Thursday and this series could get out of hand in a hurry. Here's what to watch for as you sit on the edge of your seat, no matter where you happen to be watching.
Will T-Ross Keep Bombing Away?
After seeing his playing time slashed against the Indiana Pacers, Ross stepped up in a big way in Game 1, dropping 19 points on an efficient 7-of-13 shooting in 27 minutes. He failed to hit double digits in any of the seven games versus Indiana. While Ross has been known to be anything but consistent during his short career, it would be a huge boost if he could keep up his hot shooting for one (or more, but that's probably too much to ask) more game.
With the 25-year-old making his threes, it helps open up the interior for Jonas Valanciunas to operate down low, and for DeMar DeRozan to drive to the basket. Hassan Whiteside is an imposing enough presence in the paint, and having the lane clogged with bodies only makes things more difficult for Toronto's offence.
Kyle's Prolonged Slump:
Sure, Kyle Lowry hit one of the most memorable shots in franchise history in Game 1, but he's been absolutely terrible shooting the ball for more than a month now. He claims he's not playing through injury, but it's hard to believe his shot has nosedived this hard.
He's shooting 30.6 per cent from the field during the playoffs and has hit just eight of his 50 attempts from behind the three-point line. That's including the desperation half-court heave to force overtime the other night. Those transition pull-up treys that Lowry patented during the regular season have turned into bricks and the two-time all-star now looks hesitant to shoot at all. Following Tuesday's loss, Lowry was seen putting up shots on the Air Canada Centre court at 1:00 a.m. to try and regain his form. Maybe that will help bring his shooting percentage back to respectability.
Let JV Eat:
No, the Raptors don't have Valanciunas on a strict diet. The seven-footer surely racks up the calories on a daily basis. The big Lithuanian has been a beast during the playoffs, averaging 14.9 points and 12.1 rebounds. Those numbers are even stronger than his regular-season output. Valanciunas is coming off one of the strongest performances of his career, posting a massive double-double of 24 points and 14 rebounds in Game 1. He attempted 16 shots on the night and look for him to get even more touches in Game 2. Lowry and DeRozan are struggling, so Dwane Casey needs all the offensive help he can get from his starting centre.
Where to Watch: 8:00 p.m. on Sportsnet