|Raptors rolling, looking to close out Magic|
The Toronto Raptors will attempt to win four straight games in the same playoff series for the first time in franchise history when they seek to close out the visiting Orlando Magic in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference first-round series Tuesday night.
The Raptors have rebounded from a 104-101 home loss in Game 1 to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. They are one victory away from a second-round matchup with either Philadelphia or Brooklyn.
Toronto's defense has dominated the series ever since D.J. Augustin's late 3-pointer stunned the East's second seed in the series opener.
Orlando made 14 of its 29 3-point attempts (48.3 percent) in Game 1. The Magic have since gone 29-for-111 (26.1 percent) while totaling just 82, 93 and 85 points after putting up 104 in the opener.
After a 2-for-5 effort in Game 1, Evan Fournier's shooting woes have mirrored the Magic's long-range issues. He's shot 5-for-23 from deep in the last three games.
He felt apologetic after his -- and his team's -- performance in 98-93 and 107-85 home losses in Games 3 and 4.
"It's tough, man, because these fans have been waiting for these games for so long and it's really disappointing to not give them a win," he told reporters after Sunday's loss. "That's a big reason why we want to come back here for a Game 6."
Getting the series back to Orlando will be no easy task. Toronto has rebounded from its Game 1 disappointment to win three games by a total of 56 points.
Kawhi Leonard leads the series in scoring at 28.0 points per game, but he's gotten plenty of help.
Pascal Siakam (22.3 points) also has outscored Orlando's leading scorer (Aaron Gordon, 16.3); Kyle Lowry has twice the number of total assists (34) as the Magic leader (Gordon, 17); and Toronto has five other guys -- Serge Ibaka (9.3), Danny Green (8.5), Marc Gasol (8.3), Norman Powell (8.3) and Fred VanVleet (7.3) -- averaging at least seven points per game.
"I feel like my teammates had a big part (in Sunday's win)," Leonard said. "With Norm playing great; Pascal shot the ball well; Kyle did great, made big shots; Danny made a big shot at the end of the third; Marc played great; Fred came in and knocked down shots ... I feel like we all played well tonight; we all had our hands on the game. It's not just me out there."
While Toronto has never previously won four straight in a playoff series, the Magic have a history of losing four in succession. In fact, it happened the last time Orlando made the playoffs, when it beat Indiana in the 2012 first-round opener before getting eliminated in five games.
Orlando, which also won on the road as part of a 2-2 split in the regular season, will tip off the must-win contest with vivid memories of having had success on the Toronto court.
"We've shown that we can win there before," Gordon noted to reporters Sunday. "That's the idea -- go out there and fight, definitely fight -- and potentially get back (to Orlando for a Game 6). We get a win out there, then the series is up for grabs."
--Field Level Media