Pascal has not been his usual self in the bubble. Against a not-so-deep Brooklyn team it was a non-issue, but play time is over. This is Boston, they are talented and well coached. More importantly they are a committed defensive team and have Jayson Tatum. Pascal’s offense most improve in order to put stress on the Boston defense and make Boston’s big three work on defense.
Jayson Tatum is a star, there is no doubt about that. It will be up to Pascal to play him to draw on most nights and even play better then him on some nights. Oh, and he has to do all of that without diminishing his defense.
Offensive Rebounding and Driving
As mentioned above Boston is a stout defensive team and the Raptors are not known for their half-court offense. The best way to manufacture points against a stout half-court defense is second change points. Enter Marc Gasol. Offensive rebounding is crucial for Marc in this series as he is not as athletic as Boston undersized interior and this could his best way to disrupt the game.
The same lack of size that could lead to Marc dominating the glass can also help Toronto get to the basket. Players like Kyle and Fred can get to the basket and wreak havoc with kick outs and lay ups. Look for the Raptors to run a lot of pic and rolls with the ball handler driving to the basket
Serge Ibaka and Norm Powell
Gordon Hayward is out for this series, giving Toronto a decided bench advantage. Although we may see Terence Davis, RHJ and Matt Thomas for stretches, Serge and Norm are by far the two most important pieces to Toronto’s bench unit.
Serge especially has to be at his best. Boston does not have anyone inside to match Serge’s strength and aggression, especially in their bench unit. Serge will be responsible for dominating inside and switching on the perimeter, it is crucial that he stays out of foul trouble and does not fall in love with the 3.
Norm will be relied upon to hit open shots, play defense and get to the hole. People in Toronto know who the real ‘Playoff P’ really is, it’s time for Norm to show the world.
The Transition Game
Toronto is an absolute terror in transition, just ask opposing coaches. Their transition game is often the difference in games as teams struggle to keep up with the raptors. This series in particular is an important opportunity for the raptors to lean on this given Boston’s lack of size. Boston has a choice to make, they can crash the glass as team which will leave them vulnerable against the Toronto’s transition game or they can pull back after shot attempts in order to not give up easy buckets. Both strategies have pros and cons, but this is an opportunity for Marc to turn the tide as he is one of the truly great outlet passers in the NBA.
Raps in 6.