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Three things we saw as the Raptors won Game 2

Everyone breathing just a little bit easier today after the game?

Now realize that they’ve actually done nothing, really, other than fritter away homecourt advantage and are now in a best-of-five series.

Playoffs are fun, aren’t they?

And there’s this stuff:

He’s rolling


Jonas Valanciunas, that is.

The foul issues are small concern – strikes me as the third one again was a bit dubious last night – but the way he’s been playing is exposing a huge flaw in the Pacers and exploiting a gigantic Raptors advantage that turned last night’s game.

The thing that struck me was how he’s getting the majority of his baskets and that’s on rolls to the basket and lobs and catches in traffic that right now are perplexing Indiana no end.

If Valanciunas was just getting the ball on the block and beating up Mahanmi or Turner or whoever, you know Indiana would simply start doubling more from either the baseline or the top and that would be fraught with peril but JV’s passing skills have improved but they are still from perfect, or even consistent.

But coming off a high screen or a side screen and simply catching the ball and finishing, it’s going to create some creative adjusting for Indy to take that away and it could open up a lot of other options for Toronto.

Casey is always pointing out Valanciunas’s great hands and if JV finds a second defender at the rim, he might have to catch and kick the ball out but it would seem the catching part will come okay.

Pressing a little bit

No, that was not DeMar’s greatest performance and Dwane absolutely made right move riding Lowry, Joseph and Powell for most of the fourth quarter.

It just seems like DeRozan’s pressing just a bit too much, trying to force the issue when he doesn’t have to.

A handful of times last night – I clearly remember two times right in front of the Pacers bench – he finally got little guards switched on to him right in his sweet spot on the mid-post on the wing.

That’s generally money, a couple of back-down dribbles, a shoulder fake, a lean to create contact and space and the 15-foot jumper that’s one of his go-to moves.

But he’s rushing his post-ups just a little bit and all I think he needs to do is relax and let the game come to him.

Can he have three off-nights in a row? I suppose so but I don’t think he will; more than anybody,, I think one win will free his mind and let him get on with the business of playing as well as we’ve repeatedly seem him do.

That’s what starting Carroll was and it certainly didn’t turn the tide of the game but I imagine they’ll stick with it, primarily because Dwane and his staff feel it’s fairer to not force him to catch up to an already rolling George and to start the game on even terms.

Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t but you can see the sense in it.

But last night simply didn’t work. They tried to match minutes even after both Carroll and George both got two first-quarter fouls and when the Pacers went back to their guy and the Raptors answered with Carroll at the same time, George scored 10 points in about four minutes to get Indy back in the game right before halftime.

Toronto probably doesn’t switch back unless Carroll’s still-troublesome knee acts up again but it’s not turning into one of the great series-turning moments so many had expected it to.

More? A little bit.

Which Canadian of A Certain Vintage among us does not remember this just a little bit and one of these blokes is coming here.

So the e-mail lands sometime around 5 o’clock last night and it’s pretty much right to the point:


Guess who?

Yep. She Who Supports Arsenal has had a better couple of days of fandom.

And when Not Grace, who knows a thing or two about the football, told me at dinner that he thought Tottenham can pip the title from Leicester, it struck me that this fan thing works out every now and then.

I haven’t mentioned my affinity for the two-time defending champion Townsville Fire of the Australian women’s league in a while but it’s still there.

And Canadian fans with memories that are a bit long will be glad to know that ex-pat Canuck and Olympian Claudia Brassard has ascended to the head coaching position with the Fire after three years as an assistant.

All the more reason to pay attention and cheer a bit when next season rolls around.

As they say: Fire Up!

Thanks to the early Patriot’s Day start in Boston and the way the day’s Raptors schedule of shootaround game worked out, there was time over a late lunch (Hello, Firkin On Harbour!) to catch some of the ball game.

And I tell you, even if you don’t quite appreciate or know the minutia of the game and live for three-run homers and Kevin Pillar’s willingness to dive for balls even if he really doesn’t have to, that eighth inning was a gem.

They were only two walks – Bautista and Tulowitzki – and a flair single from Martin but those at-bats were simply outstanding.

Patience. Fouling off incredibly tough pitches. Laying off breaking balls that takes more will than you or I could possibly imagine.

They were wonderful to see and I would hope that a lot of people watching came away with a greater appreciation for the discipline it took to win that game.


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