Paul George reversed his season-long struggles against the Toronto Raptors in the second half of Saturday’s playoff game, and that helped the Indiana Pacers sustain the Raptors’ futility in the opening games of postseason series.
George made 10-of-13 shots from the field (including all three of his 3-pointers) and scored 27 points in the second half of Saturday’s 100-90 victory in Toronto. He also had five second-half assists. It was the fifth time in 55 playoff games George scored 25 or more points in a half.
That was a major turnaround from his regular-season performance against the Raptors. His player efficiency rating of 11.9 was his worst against any team he faced more than twice, and he averaged 16.3 points per game against them, compared with his 23.1 season-long average.
George shot .308 from the field in his four regular-season games against the Raptors this season (20-for-65). The only player who had a lower field-goal percentage against one team (taking a minimum of 60 shots) was Rudy Gay (.279 against Minnesota), Elias Sports Bureau research shows.
For openers, Raptors are used to this
Saturday’s loss dropped the Raptors’ record in postseason Game 1s to 1-8 (.111). Among current franchises, only the Minnesota Timberwolves (1-9, .100) have been worse in Game 1s.
The Raptors have lost each of the four playoff-series openers they have played at home. Elias research shows that two other teams in NBA history lost four consecutive playoff-series opening games that were played on their home court: the Philadelphia 76ers (1968 to 1977) and the Portland Trail Blazers (1978 to 1987).
The Raptors, at No. 2 in the East, have their highest playoff seed in franchise history. This is the fourth time the Raptors have been the higher seed in a playoff series; they lost each of the previous three instances (last year to the Wizards, in 2014 to the Nets and in 2007 to the Nets).
The Washington Wizards swept the Raptors in the first round last season, marking the second consecutive season the Raptors were eliminated in the first round. They lost in the first round in each of their five previous postseason appearances, too.
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined to make 8 of 32 shots (25.0 percent). Only twice in the regular season did they combine to shoot worse than they did Saturday, and in those other instances, the Raptors won: 22.2 percent in a 91-80 win at the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 22, and 23.1 percent in a 106-103 overtime win at the Orlando Magic on Jan. 14.
Game 1 difficulties are becoming a trend for them. In the Raptors’ previous two Game 1s, Lowry and DeRozan shot 26.7 percent (against the Wizards last season) and 32.6 percent (against the Nets in 2014).
Did you know?
Blocked shots were first recorded in 1973-74, and since that time, Myles Turner is the youngest player with five blocks in a playoff game (source: Elias Sports Bureau).