A devastating second quarter blew open a close game for the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night. With the game hanging in the balance, the Raptors used a 17-5 run to turn a 41-37 lead into a 58-42 lead at the break. In the end, the Raptors checkmated the Orlando Magic 107-85, to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 first round series.
Kawhi Leonard is proving to be everything and more for the Raptors on both ends of the floor. He led four double digit scorers with 34 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Leonard was also a critical piece to the stifling defense the Raptors used against a dysfunctional Magic offense in Game 4.
After trailing by two points at the end of one quarter, the Magic failed to keep pace with the Raptors. They were outscored 30-16 in the second quarter. The Magic even won the third quarter 28-24. Terrence Ross hit a buzzer beater to cut the Raptors’ lead to 12 points heading into the fourth quarter. Instead of another close contest, the Raptors turned up the defensive intensity to hold the Magic to 15 points in the final period. As a result, the Raptors outscored the Magic by 24 points in the second and fourth quarters. They won the game by 22 points.
The quality depth is one of the main reasons for the disparity in the game. For example, Norman Powell came off the bench to score 16 points for the Raptors. The Magic used seven reserves to total 22 points in Game 4. Unfortunately, Powell wasn’t the only sub to score for the deep and talented Raptors. Serge Ibaka chipped in with 13 points, while Fred VanVleet scored 9 points. They didn’t go crazy on the offensive end. However, they helped stymie the instant offense from Ross throughout the contest.
Pascal Siakam had a few spurts of offense on Sunday night. He also finished with 16 points, including a pair of 3-point shots late in the second quarter to push the lead to double figures. Siakam only hit two 3-pointers in the game. However, these daggers set the tone for the rest of the contest. Overall, he shot 7 of 14 from the field.
Earlier in the series, the Raptors focused on Kyle Lowry’s inefficient offense. Now, people are seeing the Raptors come out victorious when Lowry isn’t having a tremendous offensive game. Lowry shot 3 of 8 on the day, scoring 9 points. He also dished out 9 assists while creating 4 steals for the ruthless defense. Danny Green was also 3 of 8 from the field. He finished with eight points in Game 4.
The Raptors get their first chance to close out the series on Tuesday night. They are already a 11.5 point favorite at home. However, the Raptors are in unfamiliar territory. They’ve only won three straight playoff games one other time in history. Those three wins spanned two different opponents. Back in 2001, the Raptors outlasted the New York Knicks in Game 4 and 5 of the first-round. They also opened the second round playoffs with a win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Therefore, the Raptors are playing their best playoff basketball since then.
The Magic have been held below 100 points in the last three games of the series. They have been held below 90 points in two of those games. Overall, the Magic were held to 42 percent shooting on the night. Furthermore, they only made 10 of 13 foul shots. The final nail came from the 3-point line. The Magic made 7 of 33 shots from beyond the arc. That equates to 21.2 percent.
Aaron Gordon played with a lot of energy for the Magic. He led the team with 25 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Evan Fournier scored 19 points and Nikola Vucevic was the last player in double figures with 11 points. Meanwhile, Jonathan Isaac played 16 scoreless minutes for the Magic.
The Raptors need to finish off the Magic immediately. They will face the winner of the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets series. Right now, the 76ers are up 3-1 and have an opportunity to end the first round on Tuesday. Will both teams earn extra rest?