The Toronto Raptors haven't conquered their first troubles just yet, but they appear well on their way to doing so after a dominant performance in Game 3 against the Indiana Pacers. The Raptors turned up the defensive pressure and used a balanced scoring attack to secure a 101-85 win in Indiana to claim a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4.
DeMar DeRozan finally broke out of his playoff mini-slump to lead the Raptors with 19 points on 6-of-18 shooting from the floor. Kyle Lowry didn't have his most efficient night (21 points on 8-of-21 shooting), but Toronto didn't need him on this night. The Raptors bench picked up the slack in a big way, powering the team to a 29-19 advantage in the second quarter that turned the game into a blowout.
Paul George had been for the Pacers in this series, scoring 33 points in Game 1 and 28 in Game 2, but the Raptors found a way to keep him in check on Thursday. George finished with 25 points on 6-of-19 shooting from the field, hitting just one of his eight attempts from three-point range on the night. Myles Turner scored 17 points for the Pacers in the loss.
Here are three things we learned as Toronto took control of this series.
The Raptors bench swung the series
Rotations are supposed to shrink in the playoffs, so it stood to reason some wondered if Toronto's great bench would continue to be a big advantage in the postseason. So much for that.
Toronto's second unit was critical once again in its Game 3 victory. The Raptors bench combined for 30 points and 18 rebounds, led by 10 points and four assists from Cory Joseph.
DeMar DeRozan needed a game like this in a big way
The first two games of this series were not kind to DeRozan. He scored only 14 points on 19 shots in Game 1 and 10 points on 18 shots in Game 2. Everything changed in Game 3.
DeRozan was excellent from the opening tip, scoring 12 points in the first quarter on his way to by far his best performance of the playoffs. He was able to get into the teeth of the Pacers defense at will, and he was able to score once he got in close.
DeRozan averaged 23.5 points per game this year and will be one of the top available free agents this summer. This is a worthy All-Star, and he finally played like it in Game 3.
Paul George can't do everything for the Pacers
George was fantastic in this series up until Game 3, but it's hard to blame him too much for Indiana's subpar effort on Thursday. Indiana was awfully sloppy with the ball in the first half, turning the ball over 11 times (compared to four for Toronto) on their way to a 53-36 deficit at the break. It was that kind of a night for the Pacers.
Monte Ellis struggled (seven points), Ian Mahinmi couldn't get anything going and the Pacers' bench failed to match up with Toronto's. The one bright spot for the Pacers was Myles Turner. The rookie big man went off for 17 points and eight rebounds.