Toronto Raptors Defeat Indiana Pacers in Game 7; Will Face Miami Heat in Second Round
There was no Game 7 heartbreak for the Toronto Raptors this time around.
Although the franchise had a 0-2 record in Game 7 playoff matchups prior to Sunday’s Eastern Conference opening round showdown against the Indiana Pacers, the Raptors never let history haunt them.
The No. 2-seed Raptors emerged victorious 89-84 to eliminate the No. 7-seed Pacers in a 4-3 series win. More importantly, the team advanced in the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2001 and will next meet the Miami Heat in the Conference Semifinals.
Toronto’s Air Canada Centre played host to the Raptors first-ever best-of-seven series triumph. The All-Star backcourt due of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan had another low-accuracy shooting performance, going a combined 15-for-46, but DeRozan in specific made it up with volume, scoring a game-high 30 points on a franchise playoff record 32 shots.
Not only did the Raptors avoid being the only Eastern Conference team to be bounced from the playoffs by a lower ranked opponent, they also prevented Game 7 losses from becoming something of a calling card.
Paul George led Indiana with 26 points and 12 rebounds, George Hill added 19 points, and Monta Ellis had 15. George called DeRozan, a fellow All-Star and teammate with the U.S. national team, “a special player.”
“Regardless of his struggling to shoot in this series, he’s special,” George said. “He’s still probably one of the most poised and under-control players I’ve guarded.” George, whose strong performances helped carry seventh-seeded Indiana into Game 7, made just two of eight attempts in the second half and admitted afterward to being tired.
George drove down the right side and drew help from Ian Mahinmi’s man. The Frenchman smartly went toward the front of the rim, but DeRozan took notice, and bodied Mahinmi up to deny him the alley-oop. The Raptors’ guard got possession of the loose ball and sunk two free throws that provided the game’s final margin.
George pointed to that as a call the referees “blew” down the stretch. “I thought the Ian foul at the end was a blatant foul… I’ve been in this situation a couple of times where the game has been kind of lopsided and the home team is given an advantage,” said George.
There was certainly contact before the ball arrived, although it could be argued that the level of contact was consistent with what was being allowed throughout the game, especially off the ball. Either way, it was close. And either way, Indiana still would have found themselves down and relying on the foul game.
DeRozan’s 2-for-2 trip capped a 30 point night to lead the Raptors, but even his night was more complicated than that sentence makes it sound. He went 10-for-32 from the field and hit prolonged droughts where very little worked. However, he got enough in two flurries: a 13-point first quarter and an 11-point spurt as part of another baker’s dozen in the third.
Next Up: Miami Heat
The team advanced past the opening round for just the second time in club history and the first time in 15 years. Miami held on against a high-quality Charlotte team and taking plenty of knocks in the process, but finishing on a convincing note.
This is the first-ever postseason meeting between the teams and from an emotional standpoint, both can certainly appreciate a clean slate, temporary as it will be.
(Toronto Raptors Defeat Indiana Pacers in Game 7)