Keys to the 6(th Game)
The Toronto Raptors find themselves back in a familiar position with the chance to conquer their demons.
Here we go again.
This was the collective state of mind for fans after the Toronto Raptors dropped Game 1 at home vs. the Indiana Pacers. Between Games 1 and 2 the line of questioning during media availability seemed to be focused on rebutting this notion. Kyle Lowry, Patrick Patterson, and Dwane Casey all alluded to the fact that this post-season run is not like year’s past despite losing Game 1 at home for the third consecutive year. A week and a half has passed and the Raptors find themselves back in familiar territory: victorious after a thrilling Game 5 and holding a 3–2 lead with the ability to close the series out on the road.
In Game 6 the Raptors blew an opportunity to close out the Nets in Brooklyn where they lost by 14. The Nets successfully defended their home court and we all know what happened next…
If you’re worried about this happening again there’s some good news:
a) The 2015–16 Raptors are better built than their 2013–2014 predecessors.
b) The 2013–2014 Nets were a much more experienced team than the 2015–16 Pacers.
c) We haven’t seen the best from our best player yet.
Game 6 presents the Raptors with an opportunity to prove that they have learned from previous failures. Clinching this series in a hostile environment would go a long way to demonstrating their growth as a team.
Keys to the game:
Lowry must step up
They say that it’s the role players who play well at home and that it’s the stars who carry a team on the road. Much has been made of DeMar DeRozan’s struggles from the field (now up to 33% for the series), however Lowry’s struggles from the floor are just as bad (31%) and make no mistake: Lowry is this team’s best player — he must shoot better.
T&T (Transition and Turnovers)
The Pacers use their 3rd ranked defense to force turnovers and create opportunities in transition.
The Raptors must ensure that they are strong and sound with the ball and that they get back immediately on misses and live-ball turnovers. Transition opportunities fuel the crowd and provide easy scoring opportunities for Pacer role-players making the team exponentially tougher to guard once they are rolling.
Weather the storm
It is highly unlikely that the Raptors are going to just walk into Bankers Life Fieldhouse and dominate the Pacers. There will be times in this game where the Indiana makes runs and it is very important for the Raptors to maintain their composure and stick to the gameplan. They were unsuccessful doing this in Game 4 so it will be interesting to see how Toronto responds with a chance to finish the series.
This piece was published on Hoop Heads North, for more Canadian Basketball content check them out here.