- PG: George Hill
- SG: Monta Ellis
- SF: Paul George
- PF: Lavoy Allen
- C: Ian Mahinmi
Game 4 Preview of Indiana Pacers vs. Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors head back to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday night, as they prepare to battle the Indiana Pacers in what could be a very intense game four of their first round Eastern Conference NBA playoff series.
Indiana stormed out to an alarming 1-0 series lead with an emphatic 100-90 win in game one, stunning the 2-seed Raptors at Air Canada Centre. Dark images of their first round sweep of last year popped up, but Toronto responded with a stronger defensive effort in games two and three by holding Indiana under 90 points.
Pacers star forward Paul George scored at least 20 points for the third straight game to start the series, but received little help from his teammates as Indiana fell into a 2-1 hole. With game four at home, the Pacers have another chance to protect their court and even up the series and two games a piece. Toronto will have other plans, however, as a win could give them a commanding 3-1 edge and push them to within one win of moving onto the second round of the playoffs.
Indiana looked like a force to be reckoned with with a big game one win, but since then they’ve recoiled in two straight defeats, with one coming on their own floor in game three. After briefly looking like the aggressor, the Pacers have quickly turned into the one-man wrecking crew they were figured to be to start the playoffs out. Paul George has carried the baton as far as he can, but at some point his teammates will have to step up and lend some help.
George’s plight to lead Indiana to another win should be slowed down by the pesky DeMarre Carroll, who even chipped in 17 points on offense in Toronto’s game three win. If Carroll is that effective on both ends, it could be a very short series, starting with a Raptors game four win.
There is reason for optimism for the Pacers, however, especially if the team acts fast and attacks more, both with shooting guard Monta Ellis and rookie power forward, Myles Turner. Toronto doesn’t have a reliable defender at the four spot, while DeMarre Carroll is busy trying to tie up PG-13. If Ellis can get it going in game four and Turner can effectively produce at both ends, the Pacers could have enough extra help to ride another big Paul George outing to a game four win.
Indiana’s only realistic shot at making this a playoff series starts and ends with a game four victory on their home floor. If they can’t get it done, their game one upset in Toronto will look fraudulent and their round one playoff series could quickly come to an end.
The starting five figures to look much the same for game four, but Pacers head coach Frank Vogel did admit that changes could potentially be coming. Following Indy’s game three loss at home, Vogel admitted that he’d “considering everything” and that the starting five fans have grown accustomed to may not be the same for game four.
One big change the Pacers could look to is rookie big man Myles Turner starting the game off as the top power forward. If that happens, Lavoy Allen would be pushed to the bench and Turner’s strong offense could help Indiana get off to a faster start offensively. It’s a move Vogel should strongly consider, especially considering Indiana’s offense has been stagnant through the last two games.
|4/21/16||VS Raptors||Lost 101-85|
|4/18/16||at Raptors||Lost 98-87|
|4/16/16||at Raptors||Win 100-90|
|4/13/16||At Bucks||Win 97-92|
|4/12/16||VS Knicks||Win 102-90|
After being swept in last year’s playoffs, it probably feels pretty good to be heading into game four with a 2-1 series lead. Toronto isn’t past the hardest part yet, but defending their home turf in game two avoided a massive 2-0 hole and a big road win in game three set them up to take complete control over the series.
The real question for Toronto is if they can keep their foot on the gas, as their defense has been flat out elite the past two games and a game four win could set up a very winnable game five at home at Air Canada Centre. For that to happen, the Raptors need to stay focused offensively and keep getting all they can out of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, while not letting up on the opposite end.
That could prove to be difficult on the road, especially if Indiana makes the proper adjustments and gets more aggressive. So far, however, Toronto has done a terrific job of making the Pacers win through Paul George alone. If they can keep Indiana a one-man show, they have a terrific chance of winning a second straight road game and taking a big 3-1 series lead. A game four defeat, on the other hand, would awaken those 2015 demons and give new life to the idea of a crushing first round upset.
- PG: Kyle Lowry
- SG: DeMar DeRozan
- SF: DeMarre Carroll
- PF: Luis Scola
- C: Jonas Valanciunas
Toronto has little reason to shy away from it’s starting five, other than potentially replacing power forward Luis Scola with Jason Thompson. Thompson is the superior defender of the two big men and if Indiana adjusts to Toronto’s defense by trying to attack the four spot with Myles Turner, the Raptors must counter. Thompson arguably offers less reliable offense and isn’t as experienced as Scola, but his defense may be necessary to retain the edge Toronto has earned over the last two games.
|4/21/16||at Pacers||Win 101-85|
|4/18/16||VS Pacers||Win 98-87|
|4/16/16||VS Pacers||Lost 100-90|
|4/13/16||at Nets||Win 103-96|
|4/12/16||VS 76ers||Win 122-98|
|4/21/16||Raptors 101, Pacers 85|
|4/18/16||Raptors 98, Pacers 87|
|4/16/16||Pacers, 100, Raptors 90|
|4/8/16||Raptors 111, Pacers 98|
|3/17/16||Raptors 101, Pacers 94 (OT)|
|12/14/15||Pacers 106, Raptors 90|
Toronto has turned the tables in this playoff series, and has also been owning the Pacers overall on the year. After securing game three, the Raptors have now claimed five of their last seven meetings with Indiana this year. That could be an interesting mental edge as the Pacers attempt to stave off a 3-1 hole on Saturday.
Matchup: Raptors vs. Pacers
|Win/Loss||56 / 26 (24-17 Away)||45 / 37 (26-15 Home)|
There is little to see here, as both teams are quite balanced and capable of both shutting teams down defensively and also exploding on offense. Both have had a taste of stifling the other, as Indiana held Toronto in check in a game one win and the Raptors have shut Indiana down the last two games. Toronto has the ATS edge by the numbers, has the better overall offense and the better overall defense, however. They’re also the more complete team and do not rely on one star player over the rest of the team. Indiana’s lone obvious edge going into game four is that they are at home.
Preview & Predictions
Toronto had been known for a very strong defense and there were high hopes that the return of perimeter stopper DeMarre Carroll would lift that unit to greater heights. It didn’t come to fruition in game one, but Carroll’s presence was felt more in the last two games – both Raptors wins.
If Toronto’s defense can remain stingy and DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry can score the ball the way they did in game three (both over 20 points), the Raptors should have the balance needed to force their way to a big 3-1 series lead. The only problem is if Indiana switches things up and gets more aggressive offensively, which could combat Toronto’s stiff defense, especially given that game four is in Indiana.
Vegas has no clue how this one is going to go. Toronto laid an egg in round one and really hasn’t found a way to stop Paul George throughout this series. It’s been their defense that has stepped up in the last two games, holding Indiana to less than 90 points in both of their wins. Everything we’ve seen so far tells us the obvious, however: it’s Paul George versus the Raptors.
Toronto has two scorers to throw at Indiana, a stronger defense and so far they’ve shown solid resolve. We had Toronto pegged as winners in five games to start this series and banked on Indy winning at home at some point – not in game one. It’s quite possible Toronto’s game one loss was a huge wake up call and they’re about to go on a run of four games to advance to round two. Considering how tight this game looks, we’ll bet on that over an Indiana team that has been far more erratic all year.
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