The Raptors failed to match the intensity of the desperate Pacers from the jump and were routed by Indiana 100-83 in Game 4 on Saturday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“We didn’t come out with the right disposition in a game where [the Pacers'] backs were against the wall,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said, trying to take the heat off of his players. “They knew they had to get this game, and we talked about it. But we can’t talk about it; we have to go out and do it on the floor, and we didn’t meet their force with our force.”
Once again, the main source of frustration was the inability of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry to make shots. They went a combined 8-for-27 from the field -- including 0-for-7 from 3-point range. For the series, the Toronto guards are shooting a combined 30.8 percent.
“To be honest, I feel like the shots DeMar and me are taking we’ve made all year,” Lowry said. “They’re just not falling right now, but I’m not going to shy away from taking them, and neither is DeMar. Tip of the hat: They’re scheming for me and DeMar, and they’re making shots tougher. But at the end of the day, we’ve still got to make shots.”
Lowry found himself in early foul trouble and totaled 12 points and six assists before being disqualified late in the fourth quarter, while DeRozan had just eight points and did not get to the free throw line for the second time this series.
While Lowry has found a way to affect the game in other ways -- whether it be as a facilitator or havoc creator on defense -- DeRozan has frequently been looking to do too much on offense and trying to force contested shots against All-NBA defender Paul George, instead of making better decisions. In Game 4, the Pacers contested all 15 of DeRozan’s shots, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, and he made just four.
“I wasn’t going to fuss or complain about the foul calls,” DeRozan said. “I was just trying to go out there and play and still be aggressive. I’m not going to shy away; I’m going to continue to get to the basket and try to draw fouls like I normally do, but I can’t cry over it. I’m not going to whine about it. I’ll figure it out.”
The Pacers took a 7-0 lead at the start, led by 12 at the end of the first quarter and were up as many as 25 in the second. Then they tried to let the Raptors back into the game, but Toronto couldn’t make any shots. The Raptors went 8-for-30 from 3-point range and missed nine uncontested triples, according to ESPN Stats & Information data. They shot 36.5 percent from the field overall.
Turnovers also proved to be a killer. Toronto had 17, which Indiana turned into 25 points. In one second-quarter sequence, George Hill made a layup, Jonas Valanciunas threw the ensuing inbounds pass to Ty Lawson and Lawson proceed to drain a jumper, giving the Pacers a 51-28 lead.
Indiana’s supporting cast finally stepped up in support of George (19 points on 6-for-16 shooting), with Ian Mahinmi and Hill each dropping in 22 points.
Meanwhile, Luis Scola (one point, 0-for-4 on 3s) was ineffective for the Raptors, and Casey might need to go in a different direction at the 4 spot, perhaps by going smaller. Norman Powell (10 points) gave Toronto plenty of energy and possibly deserves more playing time.
This is now a best-of-three series. Casey put the onus on himself to get Lowry and DeRozan better looks, but at some point the All-Star backcourt needs to put the ball in the basket themselves. Otherwise, it would be a good idea to get Valanciunas (16 points, 6-for-7 FGs) more touches inside.
“I’m positive. I’m confident, we’re staying level -- not getting too high or too low,” Lowry said. “And that’s one thing that we’ve been preaching throughout the whole season. We’ve just got to stay within ourselves. We’ve got to learn from tonight and get better. And that’s one thing we’ve done all year: We’ve always come back and gotten better.”
There's no better time than Tuesday night’s Game 5 to prove it again.