Virtually all eyes in Air Canada Centre tonight will be on forward Paul George when the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors go at it in Game 2 of their 1st-round, Eastern Conference playoff series.
Raptors head coach Dwayne Casey likely hopes his players will put some hands, forearms and bodies on George when the Pacers’ All-Star has the ball.
George recovered from a poor-shooting first half to make 10-of-13 shots in the final 24 minutes Saturday to lead Indiana to a 100-90 victory in Game 1. George finished with a game-high 33 points, 6 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocked shots. He scored 27 points in the second half.
Pacers’ head coach Frank Vogel called George’s performance awesome, citing it as a key reason Indiana was able to win and pilfer homecourt advantage. “Paul’s shot-making at the end of the game was spectacular,” said Vogel.
“Paul George is one of the best offensive players in the league. We need (DeMar DeRozan) to guard him, be in front of him, to make him work,” said Casey. “You’re not going to stop a guy like Paul George but you have to make him work, make him expend energy to score points.”
While George’s offensive heroics were vital to the outcome, the team’s defensive effort against Toronto’s potent offensive attack is the primary reason Indiana takes a 1-0 lead into tonight’s game (7 p.m., Fox Sports Indiana, NBA TV).
With George hounding Derozan and George Hill harassing Kyle Lowry, Toronto’s all-star guards combined for just 25 points on 8-of-32 shooting.
DeRozan shot 5-of-19 and scored 14 points, Lowry tallied 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting. DeRozan averaged 23.5 points during the regular season, Lowry averaged 21.2.
Casey doesn’t expect his backcourt stars to continue to shoot that poorly. “As a team, I thought we were tight offensively … it wasn’t us. I hadn’t seen us play that tentative on the offensive end all year,” he said. “It’s a long series, I know our team.”
“They missed shots. We’ve got to continue to make it tough on them,” said George.
The Pacers made 11-of-21 3-pointers, with Monta Ellis knocking down 3-of-4. Ellis finished with 15 points and 5 assists.
Solomon Hill made 10-of-10 free throws to score 13 points, rookie Myles Turner came off the bench to score 10 points, snag 5 rebounds and block 5 shots and Hill scored 10 points.
Toronto shot 30-of-79 overall and just 4-for-19 from behind the arc (21.1 percent). Reserve guard Cory Joseph led the Raptors with 18 points, center Jonas Valanciunas added 12.
The Pacers must rebound better and avoid sending the Raptors to the free throw line. Toronto outrebounded Indiana, 52-38, with Valanciunas grabbing a game-high and team playoff-record 19 boards — 15 in the first half.
Twenty-five fouls called on the Pacers resulted in the Raptors shooting 38 freebies. They made 26 (68.4 percent).
“We’re off to a good start but obviously (have) a lot of work to do still,” Vogel said.
Check out the following links for more information about George, the Pacers and tonight’s game.
Some statistics and information for this story via NBA.com.
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