After dropping a disappointing 97-83 decision in Game 1, the Raptors are looking forward to getting back on the court. Game 2 in the best-of-seven first round series between the Raptors and Bucks tips off at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday at 7 P.M.
Tip-off: 7:00 P.M. ET
Broadcast info: NBA TV, TSN / TSN1050
The Raptors were the best team in the league this season at coming back from double-digit deficits. Thanks to 21 comeback victories of 10+ points, the Raptors were also the best fourth quarter team in the league. The ability to come back from early deficits is a positive, but after trailing 30-22 after the opening quarter in Game 1, the Raptors would like to start Game 2 strong.
“It’s something that we can’t feel our way into,” DeMar DeRozan said. “We can’t wait for a team to hit us, whatever it may be. We’ve got to have an automatic start and get out as soon as that ball goes up.”
Although he’s had plenty of experience watching his team being able to turn it on late, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey would still prefer his team start the game the way it generally finishes it, rather than making life harder than it needs to be.
“I’ve always said it’s a hard way to live,” Casey said. “I like it because it means we do have fight, but let’s start that fight in the first quarter. We’ve been preaching that for a while. Let’s start the first quarter.”
DeRozan didn’t have an answer for slow starts, but he did drop another metaphor to add to his ever-growing collection when he was asked about the trend.
“I don’t know,” he said. “You ever have an old Regal, you’ve got to start up and sit there for a while before you pull off and you go on a little road trip. But once you get going, your car feels like a 2016 Lexus or something. I think that’s just kind of our problem. I don’t know. It’s something we have to be better with.”
Despite regular season success playing from behind, DeRozan again stressed the need to get off on the right foot in Game 2.
“We can’t keep relying on that, not in the playoffs,” he said. “We’ve got to understand let’s come out and play at the end of the first quarter, end of the first half, the third quarter, the fourth quarter. We’ve got to put together 48 minutes, and now’s the time to do it.”
Ibaka’s ankle improving
After Serge Ibaka came down on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s foot and rolled his ankle during the third quarter of Game 1, he took his time getting back to his feet. He stayed in the game, though, and after speaking with the media following Monday’s practice, it sounds as though he is expecting to be available to play in Game 2 on Tuesday.
Having two off days between games when you’re coming off a loss can be frustrating when all you want to do is get back on the floor and right your mistakes, but the extra day was much welcomed by Ibaka.
“I woke up today a lot better,” Ibaka said. “I’m walking perfect, so hopefully tomorrow I’m going to wake up and feel more better and be ready to go.”
This isn’t the first that that the 27-year-old has rolled an ankle, nor is it the first time that he’s dealt with the injury during the postseason.
It happened to me before, against Memphis [in the playoffs],” he said. “Yeah, it happened to me before. I played through it.”
Sacrifice leading to success
Though Serge Ibaka has only been with the Raptors since the mid February trade deadline, he’s one of the most experienced players on their roster when it comes to the postseason. Making it to the Finals with Oklahoma City Thunder — as well as multiple trips to the Western Conference Finals — gives Ibaka a perspective on postseason success that other players are still learning. After assessing the team’s Game 1 performance, he’s confident there’s plenty the team can improve upon in Game 2.
“We can do better on both ends of the floor,” ibaka said. “Both ends of the floor we can do better. It’s about discipline and defence. I think the key is about defence. Communication, getting back on defence and being physical.”
Another thing Ibaka discussed on Monday was the importance of being ready to act in the moment, as well as to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. If mistakes happen, keep moving and focus on making the correct play next. Staying locked in to the present is key for Ibaka.
“We already know its the playoffs,” Ibaka said. “It’s not really the time to wait or the time to say ‘I’m sorry’ [if you make a mistake]. The time you’re saying sorry, you’re down one already. It’s right now. We have to be ready to give everything we have for the team. Also like I said earlier, the playoffs is about sacrifice. You have to able to sacrifice.
Be ready, mentally, knowing this is the playoffs, I’m going to do whatever it takes for my team.”