The second-seed Toronto Raptors quickly dispatched the seventh-seed Orlando Magic in five games. The Magic shocked the NBA world with their first-game upset over the Raptors in Toronto. Despite that, they couldn’t put up much of a fight in the next four games, dropping them all.
Toronto Raptors vs. Orlando Magic Series Overview
The media fully expected a Raptors win in this first game against the Magic. Instead, Toronto dropped the series opener with a score of 104-101 in favor of Orlando. The wealth of playoff experience on the team paired with the total lack of experience on the Magic were factors. Add to that the sheer difference in talent between the two teams and the fact that the Raptors were playing at home, and it’s not hard to see why most people had the Raptors winning game one. Every once in a while though, you’ll see one of those games. The Raptors couldn’t get any production out of starting point guard Kyle Lowry, and the Magic couldn’t seem to miss.
Former Raptor D.J. Augustin was a big part of this lone Magic win. His 25 points on 9-13 shooting from the field (4-5 from deep including the game-winning three) paired with his six assists ensured that he dominated the point guard matchup with Lowry, who scored nothing on 0-7 shooting.
That discrepancy in play between Augustin and Lowry was the main difference in the first game. Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam, along with the bench unit, performed as well as they usually do for the Raptors. Siakam’s 24 points on 12-24 shooting and nine boards and Leonard’s 25 on 10-18 shooting would easily have done the trick had Lowry sunk just one of his six three-pointers.
This one was a bit less of a nail-biter than the first game. The Raptors led from start-to-finish in a 29-point blowout win, 111-82.
Raptors fans were worried about this second game. They had no real reason to be. Kyle Lowry historically underperforms in postseason openers, and it was unrealistic to expect Augustin to ever shoot that well again. In the second game, Lowry (22 points and seven assists on 8-13 shooting) had a spectacular bounce-back performance. In addition, Augustin fell back to Earth with nine points in 23 minutes.
Another big part of this game was Kawhi. People forget because of his year-long sabbatical, but Kawhi Leonard is a winner. A champion. A Finals MVP. A two-time Defensive Player of the Year. There was no way Kawhi was going to let his team lose this game, and you could tell by the way he played. He scored 37 points in 33 minutes with his trademark efficiency (15-22 shooting).
The most noticeable difference between the postseason matchup and regular season matchup for the Raptors was the defensive presence of Marc Gasol. Gasol had faced off against All-Star center Nikola Vucevic twice before in his time as a Raptor. Vučević averaged an impressive 18 points and 12.5 boards in those games. In 29.5 minutes per game in the series, Vučević averaged 11.2 points and eight rebounds per game, shooting a horrific 36.2% from the field. In game two of the series, he had six points and six boards in 25 minutes of play. So, while Gasol didn’t do all that much offensively, he left his mark on the game by shutting down Vučević.
In the first home game for Orlando, the score was closer than it was in any of the other games in the series, except the first. The Raptors were able to pull out the win, 98-93, but the Magic made a strong fourth-quarter push.
The refs certainly made some questionable calls in game three and heard it from Raptors fans over social media. Surprisingly though, Magic fans felt slighted as well. “Refs you suck” chants broke out in Orlando, despite their team having shot 23 free throws to the Raptors’ ten.
Most of the Magic’s comeback effort in game three was headed by Vučević (22 points, 14 boards, and 6 assists), in his lone good game of the series. Long-time Raptor Terrence Ross had himself a game as well, putting up 24 points and providing some timely threes (five in total) when needed.
None of that was enough, in the end, thanks to a playoff career-high from Siakam. The third-year forward was doing it all night long, putting up 30 points and 11 rebounds in 42 minutes. The efficiency was there too, as he sunk 13 of his 20 shots and went 3-4 from deep on the night.
A big story in the game was Kawhi Leonard’s inability to score. In what was an off shooting night for him (5-19 from the field, 0-3 from deep) the Raptors looked extremely vulnerable. However, thanks once again to Siakam’s dominant night and a Lowry double-double, the Raptors hung on for the win.
The fourth game of the series ended in another blowout win for the Raptors. With strong second and fourth quarters fuelling the Toronto victory, the final score was 107-85.
Strong bench play from the Raptors’ second unit played a key role in this win. Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka, and Fred VanVleet filled out head coach Nick Nurse’s eight-man rotation. The three of them combined for 38 points, seriously outmatching Orlando’s bench unit (22 points spread between six players).
A good sign for the Raptors, Kawhi bounced back from a weak game three, as everyone knew he would. Leonard had 34 points on 12-20 shooting.
Jonathan Isaac had a weak series overall, but his low point came in game four, in which he scored zero points in 16 minutes. Aaron Gordon stepped up to have his best game of the series with 25 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, but couldn’t save his team from the blowout loss.
Game five saw the Raptors secure their spot in the second-round by way of a 115-96 win. The game was, in fact, not nearly as close as the 19-point difference would suggest. At around the six-minute mark, the Raptors were steamrolling the Magic, at which point Nick Nurse sent out his end-of-the-bench guys. Magic head coach Steve Clifford did the same, essentially marking the end of the game and the series.
In this one, the Raptors jumped out to an early lead, leading by as many as 23 points early on. The Magic’s entire starting lineup struggled to score, but Clifford was able to get a closer look at some of his young guys.
For Toronto, this game was significant for the team’s — and its fanbase’s — confidence. Not once has a Toronto Raptors team won a best-of-seven playoff series in five games. This season, a season that fans have claimed to be different with the presence of Nick Nurse as the head coach, with Leonard, Danny Green, and Gasol now in the lineup, the Raptors were able to prove themselves where it counted — the postseason.
Next Steps for Both Teams
The Orlando Magic, now eliminated, will return to Orlando contemplating the future. They had a good season. Now, they need to decide if they want to build around Vučević (approaching free agency) and Gordon in hopes of making a deeper playoff run next year or let Vučević walk and rebuild.
The Raptors have the Philadelphia 76ers next up. They need to take this time to rest and prepare for the Sixers, who are coming off an intense series with the Brooklyn Nets. That second-round series between Toronto and Philly should be a fun one to watch, regardless of the outcome.
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