The Toronto Raptors have a reputation for being one of the NBA’s best defensive teams and it is that defense that has allowed the Eastern Conference’s No 2 seed to regain control of its first-round series against No 7 seed Indiana.
Toronto forced 17 Pacers’ turnovers in Thursday night’s Game 3 in Bankers Life Fieldhouse and converted those Indiana mistakes into 26 points in a dominating 101-85 victory, also limiting the Pacers to 38.2 percent field goal shooting and 6 of 22 from 3-point range.
While standout guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry continue to struggle with their collective shooting, it hasn’t mattered in Games 2 and 3, which the Raptors won with their defense.
Toronto got 21 points and eight assists from Lowry and 21 points from DeRozan in taking a 2-1 series lead and regaining home court advantage after losing Game 1 in Toronto.
DeMarre Carroll scored 17 points for Toronto, which took a 10-9 lead and never trailed again. Game 4 is set for Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Through three games, Lowry is averaging 16.7 points while shooting 31.9 percent from the field and DeRozan is averaging 15 points while shooting 30.4 percent (17 of 56). But the way the Raptors are defending and getting strong bench play, Toronto is finding its way after the Game 1 loss.
“I like the activity, our intensity and our approach,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said of the Raptors’ Game 3 defense. “I think it just set the tone for the entire game. We have to stay away from the touch fouls, but I really liked our defensive intensity. I especially liked our attention to detail on the defensive end.
“We have to make sure we continue to be smart with our intensity and effort on the defensive end.”
Toronto also outrebounded the Pacers 45-38, including 15 offensive boards, boosting the Raptors’ offensive rebound total to 47 in the first three games of this series.
Paul George led Indiana with 25 points, Myles Turner scored 17 and George Hill added 13.
Carroll limited George to 6 of 19 shooting, including 1 of 8 from 3-point range.