The Indiana Pacers thumped the Toronto Raptors by 18 points to force Game 7 on Friday night, evidence of the vast gap between coaching abilities in the series.
The Raptors coach Dwayne Casey let his All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan continue to shoot horribly, having scored 10 and 8 respectively on 27 total shots.
They were evidently intimidated by the rim protection of Myles Turner and Ian Mahinmi. The impressive 20 year old Turner had 4 blocks and altered many more, proving to be the steal of last years draft at pick 11. (1)
Pacers coach Frank Vogel effectively used Turner (15 pts, 9 rbnds)and Mahinmi (12 pts, 2 blks) to control the boards , keeping the two on the court even when the Raptors played a small lineup.
Vogel’s job was made easier as Jonas Valanciunas, the Raptors centre averaging almost 12 rebounds per game, was given little opportunity to continue his bullying play.
The Raptors continue to go to DeRozan, who is uber athletic and usually aggressive (averaging 8.4 free throws in the regular season, but just 5.6 this series), tends to holds the ball too long on the perimeter and cannot distribute effectively.
If the Raptors choose to re-sign the soon-to-be free agent this summer, they should have a free-throw attempts incentive in the contract. Otherwise, acquiring a better shooting and more ball-distributing player would be wise, as the Raptors lineup of is statistically more effective with the efficient and defensive point guard Cory Joseph on the floor. (2)
In the postgame press conference, Lowry said that the Pacers were “doing a great job” on him on defense, an admittance that the Pacers are seriously affecting his confidence. He has shot just 31% since his elbow injury against Orlando in late March.
For the Raptors, Demarre Carroll (15pts, 2 stls) proved to be a good free-agent pick up, hitting threes and stifling Paul George. For Indiana, Monta Ellis (15pts, 4 to) seems an unusual fit, scoring well only on fast breaks or spot up threes. George Hill (12 pts, 5 rbnds, 4 asts) continued to play stifling defense on Lowry , while Rodney Stuckey bounced back from a 1-10 shooting night in Game 5 to score an efficient 8 points in Game 6.
The series will end in Toronto, where home court advantage will prove vital. The Raptors are 4-1 at home against the Pacers this season, however with Lowry and DeRozan seemingly unwilling to be aggressive and Dwayne Casey ignoring his asset in Valanciunas, Frank Vogels’ talented Pacers have a fair chance to advance.