Slow starts in the opening game of a playoff series are nothing new for the Toronto Raptors.
Their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series opener against the Orlando Magic, Apr. 13, at the Scotiabank Arena was no different.
D.J. Augustin scored 25 points, including a three-pointer with just 4.2 seconds remaining, to lead the Magic to a 104-101 win over the Raptors, who are now a dismal 2-14 in series openers in the playoffs.
Add to that, Toronto is just 1-8 at home in Game 1’s.
“Obviously we got to go back and look at the film and see where we can improve on,” Raptors’ Pascal Siakam, who had 24 points in the loss, said in a recorded press conference on the team’s website. “We had good stretches of defense and, you know, we just didn’t have enough of those. So we got to get back, kind of watch it a little bit and figure it out.”
Kawhi Leonard, who finished with 25 points, had an opportunity to tie the game at the buzzer, but his three-point attempt missed the mark. Fred VanVleet had 14 and Marc Gasol and Danny Green poured in 13 each for the Raptors, the No. 2 seed in the conference.
Orlando, which finished seventh in the East and was making its first playoff appearance since 2012, got 11 points each from Nikola Vucevic and Jonathan Isaac.
It was a rough game for Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, who was held off the point sheet.
“I think he had some really good looks that he’s going to normally knock down,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said after the game. “We need to get him involved a little bit offensively and we need some points from him.
“But I thought he was impacting the game.”
Despite having no points, Lowry finished with a plus 12 in plus, minus.
“He was still impacting the game greatly, right,” Nurse added. “So, I thought he was a positive factor in the game, which is why we went with him. I’m sure he’ll bounce back and play a little bit better the next game.”
Orlando was up by 16 points in the second quarter, but the Raptors roared back and took a 76-65 lead going into the fourth.
The Magic, though, would find a way to battle back and get Augustin’s dagger late to win it.
“They have a lot of length,” Siakam said of Orlando in the paint. “We understood that coming into the game. We missed a lot of open shots, a lot of them went in and out. You know we wish we had a couple of those, but that’s the game. We understand that. Just got to do a better job.”
Game 2 of the series is back at the Scotiabank Arena on Apr. 16. Tip off is 8 p.m.