It’s every little kid’s basketball dream. I remember it now, on the court near my house. “5…4…3…2…Buzzer beater!” But it happened for DJ Augustine last night. Augustine drove the ball up the court with the Orlando Magic tied 101-101 to the favored Toronto Raptors, with seconds left. Augustine found his spot, shifted to the left from the coverage, and dropped a game winning 3-point shot with 3.4 seconds left.
“It’s a good win.” Said Augustin “I shot the ball with confidence, I kind of had it going most of the night and my teammates did a good job screening for me and rolling. It was a team effort because we went out there and fought hard and didn’t get down when they made their run. We just kept playing and kept fighting.’’
This was seventh-seeded Orlando, which is in its first playoff series in seven years. There was little mention of the Magic in pre game analyst talk and most seemed that they had little chance of beating the second-seeded Raptors. Yesterday’s win gave Orlando home court advantage.
“A lot of people had us counted out and thought it was a fluke that we were even here, but right now we’re just playing basketball. Who cares about (playoff) experience, I feel like?’’ said Center Kem Birch, who scored six points, seven rebounds, an assist and a steal. “Experience is just a word. As long as we keep coming with the same principles that we’ve been playing with during the season. If we keep doing that in the playoffs, it should be no problem (having little playoff experience).’’
The Raptors seemed to have a solid defensive plan: limit the Orlando’s key scorers, namely Nikola Vucevic (11 pts, 8 rbs) , and Terrance Ross (10 pts, 6 rbs), and rest of the roster would be manageable.
There were two things that the Raptors didn’t count on, Kyle Lowry’s offense disappearing, and DJ Augustine becoming clutch. It seems to have happened every season. Kyle Lowry, normally a solid point guard who can score and distribute the ball very effectively, disappears in the playoffs. Lowry had 0 points in game one. ZERO. He did contribute 7 rebounds and 8 assists, but zero points did not help.
Kawhi Leonard led Toronto with 25 points followed by Pascal Siakam who scored 24 points with 8 rebounds. Marc Gasol and Danny Green also contributed 13 points each.
DJ Augustine was the opposite. The contributed more than his usual, scoring 25 points, including the game winner, plus 6 assists. This made up for Vucavic and Ross being stifled. The late season addition of guard Michael Cater-Williams (10 pts, 2 for 3 from 3 point range) added to the Magic’s defense off the bench as well as needed points.
The Magic’s starters coming through, with Evan Fournier having a solid game (16 points including 2-5 from behind the arch), and Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac all contributing double digit scoring.
Next up, the Magic and raptors face each other in game 2 of the 1st round eastern conference playoffs on Tuesday, April 16th in Toronto at the Scotiabank Arena at 8 pm.