- With their two stars resting, Dwane Casey left 45 points per game with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan wearing suits. Little did he know, Delon Wright and Norman Powell would combine for 46.
- Let’s start with Powell: The Pacers offered no rim protection, and while their perimeter defense is usually solid, they were lazy tonight and Powell took full advantage. When was the last time a rookie got to the line 19 times? Powell was relentless, he worked the pick-and-roll beautifully (a focus of his in the D-League), and when he didn’t have the ball, he made himself open for catch-and-shoot threes.
- Now to Wright: He reminds me so much of Shaun Livingston. They’re both long, wiry point guards that don’t rely on jumpshots to succeed. And while that puts the onus on Wright to create, his handle is excellent, he’s really crafty, and he finishes tremendously with both hands around the hoop (a trend dating back to his time at Utah). Most of all, I like Wright’s ability to defend. He’s a sneaky good help defender.
- Wright has great game sense: With 4 minutes left in the fourth, Wright made two help rotations to break up two layups, then grabbed the defensive rebound. It takes a lot of smarts to read the play that well.
- I’m not worried about the Pacers in the playoffs because: Paul George has averaged 16.3 points per game while shooting 30.8 percent in 4 meetings. Each one of DeMarre Carroll, DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, and James Johnson has shut him down.
- Also re: Pacers – Their best big man is Lavoy Allen or Myles Turner. You can’t win with that. It would be a rare series in which the Raptors hold the frontcourt advantage.
- Thrilled that Cory Joseph had a breakout game. As noted earlier, the Pacers’ perimeter players weren’t interested in preventing penetration, so Joseph just got into the paint whenever he wanted and finished with 9 assists while making all 6 of his shots. Nice game for him to break out of his funk.
- Why didn’t we get to see any Bruno Caboclo? I need this.
- Every time you see Wright and Powell thrive, remember the work put in by Jesse Mermuys to coach them, and the efforts by Masai Ujiri to get a D-League team.
- Finally, credit Dwane Casey for this above all else: the players always play hard for him. Anyone who’s ever been in a leadership position knows how hard it is to constantly motivate his team. Down 4 key players, the Raptors still looked sharp.