The Toronto Raptors took control of their first-round matchup with the Orlando Magic on Sunday night, winning in convincing fashion 107-85 and pushing their series lead to 3-1 with a chance to send the Magic packing Tuesday night in Toronto.
Following a thorough performance that saw Toronto dominate both ends of the floor, those covering the series outside the Canadian media market, like the rest of us, continue to be impressed by what the Raptors have shown in the days since coughing up Game 1. Kawhi Leonard continues to establish himself among the game’s elite, and it’s clear Orlando just doesn’t have the talent to match up in what’s quickly become a very one-sided affair.
As we do following every Raptors playoff game, here’s a roundup of what they’re saying about the team as it leaps closer to the second round:
Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi examines the vast gulf between Toronto and Orlando, and why it’s simply been too much for the Magic to overcome:
Sadly and somberly, the Orlando Magic’s playoff mantra of “Blue & White Ignite” has all but been extinguished in the wake of Sunday night’s 107-85 playoff beatdown at the deft, dominating hands of the Toronto Raptors.
The flickering flame is barely visible now. A fading ember that will likely be snuffed out completely very, very soon.
The amped-up Amway Center seemed more like an oversized 875,000 square-foot funeral home as Orlando fans filed out of the building and Orlando players trudged off the court with the realization that the Raptors are just too good on offence, too good on defence and just too good in every facet of the game.
…The Raptors have a superstar in Kawhi Leonard whom the Magic once again simply had no answer for. Leonard finished with 34 points on 12-of-20 shooting and at one point in the second half drove to the hoop, scored on a layup and got fouled by the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic. The Magic’s all-star centre then pounded the padding on the basket stanchion in frustration as if to acknowledge there was absolutely nothing the Magic could do to stop Leonard.
Along with Leonard, the Raptors have an all-star point guard in Kyle Lowry and a third option, Pascal Siakam, who, frankly, has played better than anybody on the Magic roster this series. Siakam was averaging 24.3 points and 10 rebounds during the first three games of this series and had 16 points and six boards Sunday.
For the Magic to even have the slightest chance in this series, every player on the team has to play their absolute best. And that’s not even coming close to happening.
NBA on TNT — Shaq, Charles and Kenny react post-game and look ahead to the next round
The Inside the NBA crew take a look at Sunday’s action, but can’t help but peek ahead to a potential (read: likely) second-round series between the Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers, as well as the depth of contenders atop the East. Charles Barkley says he like Toronto’s chances in that matchup, and praises the job Masai Ujiri has done in not only bringing Leonard to the Raptors but in assembling the talent around him.
Of all the differences between Orlando and Toronto — the depth, experience, shot-creators — Pinstripe Post’s Zach Oliver touches on the most apparent: one team has Leonard, and the other does not:
Sometimes one guy can almost single-handedly break a team.
The Magic found that out the hard way Sunday night when Kawhi Leonard terrorized them on both sides of the ball, almost single-handedly leading the Toronto Raptors to a convincing win in Game 4, and giving them a stranglehold on their first-round series.
After getting off to their best start since Game 1, Leonard quickly squashed any dreams the Magic had of making a real push to knock off the heavily favoured Raptors on their home court. The Raptors’ all-star took the game over offensively, and showed off why he was a former Defensive Player of the Year on the other end.
As the game wore on, Leonard was able to continue to get whatever he wanted on the offensive end, finishing with 30 points through the first three quarters. Every time the Magic would make a run and cut the Raptors lead down to 10 or 12, Toronto would answer with buckets from Leonard on almost every possession.
“He’s a great player man, there’s nothing you can really say about that,” said D.J. Augustin when asked if it broke the will of the team.