Toronto Raptors Defeat Indiana Pacers to Take a 3-2 Series Lead
Toronto was the site of pivotal game 5 of the series between the Raptors and the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night. This game had big implications since the series was tied 2-2 and the team that takes the 3-2 lead is vastly more likely to win the series.
I’ve heard some “casual” fans say you don’t have to watch NBA games, you just need to watch the last few minutes because that’s all that matters. In the case of this game, that’s half true, but you would miss most of what actually took place on Tuesday night in Toronto. This was a game that was firmly in hand for the Pacers. Heading into the 4th quarter, they were poised to head back to the states with a victory and a 3-2 series lead, ready to finish off their first round opponent in front of their home crowd.
Paul George was the star of the first half for Indiana and helped lead them to a 9 point lead after two quarters. The third quarter only served to pad the Pacers lead as they headed to the 4th with a 13 point cushion. After shooting well through three quarters, everything unraveled for the visitors in the 4th. It took the Pacers nearly 5:00 into the quarter to score their first points. Midway through the final period, the Raptors had gone on a 15-2 run to tie the game.
With 6 and a half minutes to go, the score was all knotted, but the Raptors had all the momentum and the home crowd behind them. Toronto hit back to back 3’s to take a 6 point lead and force a timeout by Indiana. After exchanging points, the Pacers had cut it to 4 with just over a minute to go. After a stop, they managed to find Solomon Hill in the corner after a miss from Paul George, where he drilled a 3 pointer to cut the lead to 1 with 15.9 seconds remaining. Two clutch free throws by Demar DeRozan extended the lead to 3, giving Indiana the ball with 13.9 seconds left.
After a failed attempt and the ball out of bounds, the Pacers had 2.3 seconds to inbound the ball and attempt a 3 pointer for the tie. The inbound was to a covered Paul George so he passed it to Solomon Hill who again hit a huge 3, this time at the buzzer. With the home crowd stunned and preparing for overtime, the refs huddled at the replay table to test the validity of the shot. After review, it was determined the shot was not out of Hill’s hands before the time ran out.
The Canadian crowd went crazy, including usual court side Raptors’ fan Drake, who later posted on Instagram a picture of Paul George with a cartoon tear rolling down his face. Of course George had nothing to be ashamed of after this game as he finished with 39 pts, 8 rebs, 8 asts and had the would-be assist on what was a split second from being the game tying 3 pointer.
Can This Series Go the Distance?
The series now shifts back to Indiana where the Pacers look to force a game 7. The home court advantage should have the Pacers feeling confident, but the fact the Raptors have won 3 of the last 4 should have them feeling pretty good as well. If this game was any indication, I would expect to see this series go the distance. It’s not everyday a team will control a game 75% of the way through and then all of a sudden go ice cold in the 4th while the other team heats up.
The Pacers’ 9 4th quarter points were clearly an anomaly and I would not expect a repeat performance. Bankers Life Fieldhouse is the site where it will be decided Friday night.
(Toronto Raptors Defeat Indiana Pacers)