Of all the first-round series, this one probably has been the weirdest. Two All-Star players in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have both mysteriously turned into two of the least effective players in basketball, while a Pacers team led by postseason MVP Paul George has inexplicably pushed the series to seven games despite coming into it as a considerable underdog.
Game 6 was a blowout for the Pacers at home, fueled in large part by George’s 21 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Myles Turner, who has been something of an X-factor in this series, also chipped in 15 points and nine boards, while proving very active on defense with four blocks.
At halftime, the Raptors actually were up by four points after getting out to a 14-4 lead early in the game. The Pacers actually handed out “We the Gold” t-shirts to fans that understandably miffed Toronto, who has been running on their “We the North” slogan forever.
Early on, that extra little bit of motivation seemed to help, as Indiana’s dry spell from the fourth quarter of Game 5 seemingly spilled into the first half of the first quarter in Game 6. The poor shooting wouldn’t last though, as Solomon Hill, who really has been big in this series, knocked down a couple of threes to close the gap by the second quarter.
Things really got away from the Raptors in the third and early fourth quarters, as Indiana exploded offensively and ripped off an 18-0 run that Toronto just couldn’t answer. Lowry and DeRozan were as brutal as they’ve been all series, combining for a paltry 18 points on 7-for-27 (25.9%) shooting from the field.
So now the series heads back to Toronto tied up at three games apiece. Toronto has won the Atlantic three consecutive years without advancing past the first round. They’re on the cusp of a breakthrough, but the Pacers have pushed them to the brink. Paul George isn’t going to be any less great than he has been, but Lowry and DeRozan can be better. If they aren’t, though, “We the Gold” may be the playoff slogan that survives this spring.
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