Reaction: Indiana Pacers defeat Toronto Raptors 100-83 in Game 4

After playing uninspired basketball in games 2 and 3, the Indiana Pacers came out roaring in game 4, tying their first round series against the Raptors at 2 games apiece. How did it happen? Let's break it down:

What Happened:

Indiana defeated Toronto 100-83 in game 4 of the Eastern Conference first round series. The Pacers had been outclassed and out-hustled in the previous two contests, losing by an average of 13.5 points. From the opening tip to the final buzzer, Indiana was in complete control offensively and defensively, making quick passes and smart shots while harassing Toronto and forcing turnover after turnover. All of the issues that plagues Indiana in the first two games, allowing offensive rebounds, making sloppy passes, and complaining to the officials were thrown out the window before Saturday's contest, as Indiana played their most complete game of the series so far. For the first time this series, Indiana won the rebounding battle, beating the Raptors 43-40 on the glass, and generally limiting any momentum-swinging second-chance points.

Where this game was won was the defensive pressure. One of the keys to this series was how well Indiana could force Toronto turnovers and score off those possessions. The Raptors coughed up 17 turnovers leading to 25 Indiana points. When there were no turnovers, the Pacers were locked in on their assignments and forcing contested shots. In fact, out of Toronto's 74 total field goal attempts, the Pacers contested 58 of them, or 78.3%. 

Mahinmi Shines:

Ian Mahinmi had not only the best game of his Pacers career, but his entire career. Mahinmi scored a career-high 22 points, snagged 10 rebounds, and even threw in 5 assists for good measure. He looked like an all-around dominating center, and his play could not have come at a better time. Generally when Mahinmi plays well offensively, it's just icing on the cake baked by Paul George. Saturday, however, he was able to completely relieve George of his load and help spread out the scoring. His positioning on defense also affected Toronto's offensive strategy, as Jonas Valanciunas was severely limited in the second half after being a force in the first. 

George Hill, too:

Not to be outdone, George Hill provided his best performance of the series, and possibly of the season. Hill matched Mahinmi's 22 points, shooting at a fantastic 9-11 clip. Hill was constantly attacking the basket, either going for the finish himself or dishing back out to the perimeter. As has been the case since Hill arrived in Indiana, aggressive George Hill is the best George Hill for the Pacers.? His defense on Lowry was also terrific once again. The Raptors' point guard only logged 12 points on 4-12 shooting, and was coaxed into 3 turnover before fouling out of the game. 

DeRozan is DeReadful

Paul George continues to dominate his foil DeMar DeRozan in this series. On Saturday DeRozan had his worst offensive output of the series thus far, managing just 8 points on 4-15 shooting. George also forced DeRozan into a game-high 6 turnovers. The Toronto All-Star appeared to have hit his stride at least points-wise in the third game, but he ended up being locked down once again. George only scored 19 points, but that was more than enough thanks to the aforementioned Mahinmi. His shot was off for the first time this series, but even when Paul George isn't giving you 30+ points, he'll always contribute his All-Universe defensive capabilities.

Turner Struggles from Field, but Still Effective

The Pacers' rookie center Myles Turner was inserted into the starting lineup for game 4. He replaced Lavoy Allen in a move that essentially brought the Pacers back up to 5 players. Turner did not have a strong offensive game, only scoring 4 points on 2-13 shooting, but his presence energized the starters, and they proceeded to jump out to the early lead in the first quarter. Turner also grabbed 7 rebounds and blocked 2 shots, so he looked to leave an impact on the game when his shot wasn't falling.

Glenn Robinson III Officially Wanted for Murder in Ontario:


What's Next:

Game 5 of the series heads back to Toronto on Tuesday. After the high-energy first half of game 4, it's safe to say Myles Turner will not be leaving the starting lineup any time soon. Look for Toronto to open up the paint for Valanciunas more often in game 5, as his limited touches in game 4 were all positives for the Raptors. Paul George will also get his fair share of shots up in the first half, as he tries to rebound from his game 4 shooting performance. If Lowry can elevate his play to what it was in games 2 and 3, this game will belong to the Raptors, who are coming home to a raucous Air Canada Centre. George Hill must anticipate major adjustments from Lowry for game 5 if he wants to replicate his stellar defense from Saturday.

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