Published: Wed, April 24, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Takeaways from Toronto Raptors series-clinching win over Orlando Magic

Takeaways from Toronto Raptors series-clinching win over Orlando Magic

They aren't ghosts like Game 7, Boston Bruins ghosts. He'd been criticized for going 0-for-7 from the floor in the Game 1 loss, but on this occasion, his shots were falling to go with everything else he does well.

This version of the Raptors is different from past years, that much has become crystal clear in recent days.

Lowry came out with a goal and it was clear he was ready to close this one out in 5, scoring the first 9 points for the Raptors. The best post-Vince, surely. It was also the largest combined margin of victory in a series in franchise history, defeating the Magic by a total of 72 points, easily passing the 2016 Eastern Conference Semifinals when they defeated the Miami Heat by a total of 16 points. Kyle Lowry had 12 of his 14 points in the first quarter and doled out nine assists, Norman Powell chipped in with 11 points and Serge Ibaka finished with 10.

Leonard made eight of 11 shots, including of five of five from three-point range, as the Raptors jumped on Orlando early and never trailed. "We could not do it". "They're a long team so they're all over the place". Five guys flying in, and they had to pull it out.

There was, of course, much more to Toronto's easy victory over the overmatched Magic than just Lowry's early dominance and all-around play.

Now, they'll move on to the second round of the playoffs for the third straight season. Vucevic's first points didn't come until 2:06 of the third. Still, they'll have a tough challenge in the Philadelphia 76ers - that is, assuming the 76ers don't blow a 29-point lead in the second half of Game 5 against the Brooklyn Nets. "I said, 'There's no better way to impose your will.' [Ross] steals it and is thinking dunk, and all of the sudden he has nothing". Gordon lauded the Raptors' balance.

"They're scrambling", Augustin said.

Marc Gasol showed why Toronto acquired him from Memphis at the trade deadline, neutralizing Magic all-star centre Nikola Vucevic.

"(Lowry) was wonderful in this series", the coach said. We figured it out quick, which is a really good thing for us. He'd later have the finger on his right hand taped up after the game, saying he popped it out and then "popped it back in". But it comes down to one-on-one matchups.

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"The hardest part, mentally, is not getting too fat and happy, or too satisfied..."

Like just about any cliché or old "saw" about any league or any sport - defence wins championships, home-field or court or ice advantage is huge, goaltending wins championships, you have to put your best player in the best positions to excel (take heed, Mike Babcock) - the notion that having the best player on the court gives you a pretty good start toward winning an National Basketball Association game seems often exacerbated by recency bias. They had Leonard, a far more complete scorer than DeMar DeRozan, the man he unceremoniously replaced. And he has company. Despite his team's stellar play Nick Nurse isn't ready to overlook the Magic.

The series against Orlando been a defensive battle, as the Magic have been physical and made the Raptors work for every offensive possession.

This is not to say that Siakam and Lowry are passengers. Those guys played good, we didn't.

When the Raptors are as locked in on the defensive end as they've been, the ceiling for what the team is capable of rises accordingly, and it's left us watching the best version of the team yet.

The Raptors have not been playing a particularly deep rotation.

At any rate, at least he's still playing, which is more than can be said for another much-ballyhooed MLSE off-season acquisition. The Toronto Raptors are shooting 35.4 percent from beyond the arc and 84.7 percent from the free throw line.

It's what the Raptors have been doing during their three-game win streak, handling both ends of the floor.

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