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Playoffs 2019

NBA Playoffs 2019: Four things to watch in Game 4 between the Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic

With a win on Friday, the Toronto Raptors regained homecourt advantage in their first-round series with the Orlando Magic.

The win didn't come easy, but the Raptors got it done thanks to a playoff career-high 30 points out of Pascal Siakam, as well as some clutch play from Kyle Lowry.

TAKEAWAYS: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3

With an opportunity to take a commanding 3-1 lead on Sunday before the series shifts back to Toronto, here are four things to watch in Game 4...

The Nikola Vucevic matchup

After combining for 17 points in Games 1 and 2, Vucevic looked more like himself in Game 3 with 22 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.

A lot of that damage, however, came in the minutes Marc Gasol was on the bench.

Up until Gasol picked up his fourth foul, which occurred with 9:31 to play in the third quarter, Vucevic had six points (2-5 FG) and four turnovers in Game 3. He then scored 16 points (5-8 FG) and committed only two turnovers the rest of the way, with Serge Ibaka playing most of the minutes at centre for the Raptors.

Ibaka did a decent job of defending Vucevic during the regular season, but he hasn't been nearly as effective as Gasol through three games of this series. According to NBA.com, Vucevic has scored almost as many points (18) in 25 minutes against Ibaka than he has in 76 minutes against Gasol.

Not all of those points have come directly against Ibaka - the All-Star got going in Game 3 with some post-ups against mismatches and a pair of pick-and-pop 3s - but Vucevic has clearly been a different player in this series when matched up with Gasol, as we broke down after Game 2.

The Magic's 3-point shooting

In Game 1, the Magic made 14 of their 29 3-point attempts.

In the two games since, they've combined to miss 56 of their 78 3-point attempts.

A lot of those have been quality looks, too. According to NBA.com, the Magic have converted only 30 percent of their open or wide open 3-point attempts over the last two games.

Evan Fournier and Jonathan Isaac in particular have struggled. Whereas the Raptors have been daring Isaac to beat them from outside - a sound strategy for someone who made only 32.3 percent of his 3-point attempts during the regular season - Fournier, a career 37.1 percent 3-point shooter, just hasn't been able to find a rhythm.

Fournier has missed some difficult shots...

...but he's also missed some very makeable ones.

The only player on the Magic who has been able to punish the Raptors from the 3-point line is Terrence Ross, who scored a team-high 24 points off the bench in Game 3.

The Magic will need more than just him to get it going from the perimeter to have a chance at tying the series at 2-2.

Kawhi Leonard's playmaking

Game 3 was a struggle for Kawhi Leonard, who was likely limited because of an illness that kept him out of practice in the days leading up to the game.

In 37 minutes of play, the Raptors' leading scorer was held to 16 points on 5-for-19 shooting from the field. Leonard also turned the ball over six times, marking a new playoff career-high.

It wasn't all bad for Leonard, though.

After an impressive showing in Game 2, the Magic doubled him with greater frequency and collapsed on his drives to make it difficult for him to score in the paint in Game 3. While he had far too many turnovers and settled for a number of tough looks, Leonard made the Magic pay for their aggressive scheme on several occasions by setting his teammates up with open shots.

Leonard finished the game with only four assists, but NBA.com credited him with nine potential assists, which was up from six in Game 1 and five in Game 2.

On nights where Leonard's shot isn't falling, that's the sort of impact the Raptors need him to make, albeit more efficiently.

The Magic's defence on Pascal Siakam

The Raptors would've been in trouble in Game 3 had it not been for Pascal Siakam.

The last time a Raptor had at least 30 points and 11 rebounds in a playoff game was Chris Bosh, who posted 39 points and 15 rebounds in Game 4 of Toronto's first-round series with the Magic, ironically, back in 2008.

Siakam is now averaging 24.3 points per game in the series. It hasn't mattered who the Magic have put on him through three games. Aside from Jonathan Isaac blocking him a couple of times, nobody has been able to stop him from scoring.

Pascal Siakam's matchups
Defender Possessions Points FG-FGA
Jonathan Isaac 122 31 15-28
Aaron Gordon 29 11 4-8
Wes Iwundu 26 6 3-5
Evan Fournier 24 16 7-8

A bad sign for the Magic is that Siakam was even able to get himself going from the 3-point line on Friday, knocking down three of his four attempts from deep.

Siakam had combined to miss all seven of his 3-point attempts in Games 1 and 2.

Following a standout game, it'll be interesting to see if Steve Clifford and the Magic throw different looks at Siakam in Game 5 or trust that Isaac and Aaron Gordon will be more effective guarding him.

"Whatever the defence gives me, that's how I'll play," Siakam said at his media availability on Saturday. "I'm out there on the floor and if I feel like I can take 10 dribbles, I'll take them. If I can take one, I'll take it too.

"Whatever the defence gives me and play off of that."

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