How the Raptors Out-Executed the Pacers During Their Late Run


With 11:30 left in the Pacers’ second game of 2014, Luis Scola hit a cutting C.J. Watson for a layup. This bucket cut Toronto’s lead to one, and Indiana began to jog back down the court to play defense.

But Watson didn’t jog back. He got right into a one-man-press, applying full court D on Grevis Vasquez, who was promptly called for carrying the ball under C.J.’s pressure.

Indiana now had the ball, down one, with 11:25 on the clock. They ran Danny Granger off a curl and got him the ball in the high post. He spun off his man and got a tough layup to fall.

The Pacers had the lead. This is the part of the game where they usually put teams away, and this was the Raptors — not exactly one of the elite teams in the league.

So why didn’t the Pacers come away with the W? Let’s take a look.

After Roy Hibbert got his fifth foul on a fairly questionable call, the Raptors run a cool set where John Salmons pops to the left wing off a pin-down screen.

With Danny Granger struggling to get through the pick, Salmons catches the ball, dribbles to the middle of the court and looks to drive to the hoop.

Ian Mahinmi is there to shut off the lance, and Watson hedges over to, correctly, play help defense; he doesn’t totally help off the shooter, but takes a jab in the direction of a penetrating Salmons to curb the drive.

Vasquez cleverly relocates on the perimeter, however, and Salmons kicks it to Vasquez, who knocks down an open three.

Ultimately, with Mahinmi there to protect the rim, Watson shouldn’t have come so far off his man. Vasquez from behind the arc was more of a threat than Salmons trying to hit a pull-up jumper/floater over a 7-footer (and Granger was in decent position to prevent the dump down to a rolling Hansbrough).

To his credit, Watson responds with a 3 on the other end.

The game then plays out with a Pacers stop, a double tech, a Luis Scola turnover, two free throws by Terrence Ross. Then came a few missed field goals, some missed free throws, and a Scola jumper that tied it back up at 72.

There were now seven and a half minutes left — and the Raptors were about to take over by exploiting Indiana’s defense through a series of well-run sets.

The first was a tricky double ball screen for Vasquez set by Tyler Hansbrough and Ross.

After the initial pick, Ross rolls. Hansbrough follows and sets a downscreen for him. Paul George chases Ross through the pick.

Vasquez hits Ross as he curls into the lane well ahead of George. This basically turns into screen and roll, with Hansbrough rolling and West helping to stop Ross’s drive. This leaves Hansbrough open heading to the hoop, so he has no trouble catching the pass from Ross.

Scola rotates over and help on the Hansbrough threat, but he is a step late. Hansbrough is able to get the shot off and make it to give the Raptors the lead. (Bear in mind: If Hibbert was in the game and not on the bench in foul trouble that shot is probably not going down.)

A few minutes later, with just over four and a half minutes left, the Raptors have increased their lead to 7 after getting to the line a few times. Hibbert has returned to the floor, and if the Pacers get a stop they’re certainly back in the game.

Toronto has other ideas, however, and run a cool set where Kyle Lowry gets an on-ball screen while DeMar DeRozan comes up off a pindown in the corner.

Paul George makes the fatal decision to go under this pindown instead of fighting through it.

DeRozan recognizes George cheating under the screen, and flares out for an open jumper that he knocks down.

This shot put the Raptors up 10.

After this run, the Pacers never came back.