Despite the huge following that came with the Toronto Raptors across the border into Indianapolis, they failed in putting the Indiana Pacers on the brink of getting knocked out of the playoffs. Bad defense is one reason, but the play of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan is another one, as the backcourt duo need to learn a thing or two from Paul George.
The Pacers won game 4 100-83 to tie the series at 2-2. This was George’s weakest game in the series offensively, so he didn’t try to make it all about himself. Despite being the star of this team and sometimes falling into the trap of doing too much on his own, he’s quite experienced in the playoffs with two Conference Finals behind him as a leading player. He knows when to let go and to let others take his place. It’s something DeRozan and Lowry struggle at, especially when things aren’t going their way.
George was only 6-for-16 from the field but still finished with 19 points. Ian Mahinmi led the team in scoring along with George Hill. Two players who usually make themselves noticed defensively. Mahinmi lacks the talent to be a consistent force offensively. Hill is one of those players who seems to be afraid of taking over, or trying to. Both of them scored 22 points, making up for a weak night from Monta Ellis and awful offensive decisions by rookie Myles Turner (2-for-13 from the field), who at least makes up for it on the other end.
George is averaging 26.3 points per game in this series, scoring less and less each game that goes by. He’s shooting OK (44.4% from the field) with a reasonable 50% eFG. The Pacers can live with that, they don’t have much of a choice. But the Raptors, a team that has its recent and older history of playoff disappointment, came out flat, and didn’t have the inspiration from its two stars to drag them back up as the defense failed to get important stops.
DeRozan scored just 8 points on 4-for-15 from the field, not getting to the line once. Lowry scored 12 points on 4-for-12 from the field. Lowry is shooting 32.2% from the field in this series and 18.5% from three, taking 6.8 shots per game. DeRozan is even worse at 29.6% from the field and not making a single three pointer. They had a rough time against the Washington Wizards last season too. With that kind of performance from the two stars, it’s a wonder the Raptors haven’t been swept by now.
There’s more to this than DeRozan and Lowry playing like dirt. The Raptors whole offensive concept of running to the middle and kicking it out for threes is failing. Instead, trying to get Jonas Valanciunas more involved (6-for-7 from the field) seems like a smart idea. They can’t win on offensive rebounds alone, and the Pacers are working hard to eliminate those. The Raptors have more offensive weapons to take control of this series again. The problem is that all of them are misfiring right now.